Sinn Féin Seanad leader, Senator David Cullinane, is supporting a recall of the Seanad in order to discuss the very serious consequences arising from the failure of Irish Water to pass the Eurostat test
Senator Cullinane said: “Sinn Féin and other members of the Opposition are calling for a recall of the Seanad on foot of the Eurostat test which determined that Irish Water will not be able to go off balance sheet.
“The gravity of this ruling cannot be downplayed – it has serious consequences for government water strategy and for Irish tax payers.
“Sinn Féin has always been critical of the government’s rationale for the setting up of Irish Water. It is a service we are already paying for. Irish Water have given us little more than a masterclass in mismanagement where precious millions are being spent and squandered with nothing to show for it.
“We pointed out last year that Irish Water could not be kept off the state’s balance sheet for numerous reasons, with the ‘conservation grant’ being nothing but a ruse to convince Eurostat that Irish Water was a viable commercial enterprise. Irish Water was not operational long enough to go off balance sheet either according to Eurostat.
“What is more, the figures are simply not adding up, especially with the huge levels of non-compliance by Irish people. We are in a situation where the level of non-payment means that the cost of the water conservation grant will actually exceed money returned by the payment of domestic water charges.
“This means that the government will have to either increase water charges or scrap the conservation grant if they wish to fulfil the plans they set out. This would leave the Irish people at a financial loss either way.
“It is an embarrassing set-back and has real consequences for the funding of our water services. However it is ultimately the Irish people who will carry these costs. Government Ministers are speaking from both sides of their mouth and should scrap these water charges once and for all.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said reports today that Eurostat has rejected plans to keep Irish Water off balance sheet is a major blow to the government.
Deputy Doherty has said that the government’s whole argument against Sinn Féin’s plan to abolish Irish Water is now gone and he called on Enda Kenny scrap Irish Water and water charges.
Speaking this morning Deputy Doherty said;
“Sinn Féin’s view has always been that the government’s entire rationale for the Irish Water was flawed. It was simply a vehicle to charge people for their water.
“But the view that it could be kept off the state’s balance sheet was fundamentally flawed for three key reasons which we pointed out at the time.
“One, the so-called water conservation grant is nothing more than a transfer from government to Irish Water via households which which means this money would be likely to be deemed by Eurostat as expenditure by the government to Irish Water.
“Two, according to Eurostat a company must be fully functional for a number of years before it goes off balance sheet.
“And three, given the level of non-payment the government’s figures simply did not add up. The money put into Irish Water by government must be less than what is returned by its customers.
“The current non-payment level means that the cost of the Water Conservation Grant and its administration costs will exceed the money returned in domestic water charges.
“Sinn Féin is not surprised by the news today as the government had already failed the Eurostat Test when it tried to put €240million into Irish Water off balance sheet in 2013 and it was told that this money must be on balance sheet.
“Today’s ruling has proved Sinn Féin’s analysis correct. The government is now left with egg on its face as it argued time and again that its plan would pass the Eurostat test.
“As a result of this Eurostat ruling all borrowing by Irish Water is now deemed as government borrowing yet Irish Water has borrowings of €850 million which can rise to €2 billion, mostly from commercial sources at rates higher than what the government is paying for its borrowings. This is simply money down the drain.
“The whole argument against Sinn Féin’s call to abolish Irish Water is now gone. Enda Kenny should now accept defeat, he should scrap Irish Water and water charges once and for all.
“If the government continues with its plan to charge for water and to keep Irish Water off balance sheet it will need to scrap the water conservation grant or increase charges. Either way it will be the customer that pays and the public must be made aware of this.”
Sinn Féin are carrying out a full scale re-enactment of the O’Donovan Rossa Funeral on the exact 100th anniversary date and time on Saturday 1st August 2015 as their first event of their 2016 Centenary programme.
Bartle D’Arcy, Sinn Féin 1916 Co-ordinator, said: “There is huge interest in our first 2016 event with our cemetery passes gone in 12 hours, many relatives of people who were there in 1915 are attending, and BBC are covering the event.
“At midday, the Cabra Historical group will provide a Guard of Honour for the lying in state of the O’Donovan Rossa casket in the Rotunda of Dublin City Hall. The City Hall oration by Rev. M. Flanagan will be performed at 1 pm and the casket will be removed to the horse drawn hearse at 1.30pm.
“The Historical cortege led by the O’Neil/Allsop marching band will depart from City Hall at 2pm and proceed along the original route through Westmoreland St, up O’Connell St Parnell Sq. West, onto Berkley Road, Cabra Road and finally Finglas Rd to Glasnevin arriving at 3pm. The public are encouraged to come out to watch the parade pass on the streets as in 1915 and to wear period dress.
“The allocation of Cemetery tickets is now complete and there will be no entry to Glasnevin for this event without the Cemetery Pass issued by organisers. Across the road in Claremont Park, a big screen will relay the graveside activity including a new 1916 song by Pete St John ‘The Spirit of the Gael’ performed live by Red Hurley and the famous Pearse oration.
“People attending any or all of the re-enactment should look at www.sinnfein.ie/1916 for travel advice and there is no parking at Glasnevin on the 1st August.
“We would ask all who attend to follow the direction of the stewards and Gardaí who will be present on the day and walk in the footsteps of the 1916 leaders.”
Saturday 25th saw the annual Famine Commemoration Walk in The Commons/Ballingarry led by Olympic Gold Medalist Ronnie Delany. It is more than appropriate that a sporting trail-blazer should lead the walk to the site of the 1848 rebellion, which was itself an event that paved the way for others to follow.
In 1848 when the Young Irelanders rebelled, the country was awash with death and disease, consequent on the failure of the potato crop and the famine that event brought. In the years 1845-1850 over 2 million Irish men, women and children died or fled the country to avoid death.
Each year since 2000 – on the last Saturday in July – the people of The Commons and surrounds walk from the Commons crossroad to the Warhouse nearby. They do so to remember the past, to honour those who died of starvation, and to show their respect for the ideals of 1848.
The Warhouse is the local name given to the building where the Young Irelanders fought against men of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The RIC had barricaded themselves in there after failing to arrest William Smith O’Brien. Though the ‘war’ was short, it led to the formation of the IRB and ultimately to independence. It is also the location where our national flag was first raised in anger, and in defiance of the occupying Empire.
Since being taken in charge by the OPW, the house has been designated a national heritage monument. Manager John Webster is to be commended for the excellent condition of the house, and he speaks very highly of the work of the Office of Public Works (OPW) who are responsibility for the restoration and maintenance.
He does not speak as highly however, of the poor roads and signage leading to the building, and instead points to a lack of investment in them. This was a theme also touched on by walk organiser Prof. Tom McGrath in his opening remarks.
The building those roads lead to is sturdy in a way that is somewhat unexpected, having been built 170 years previous, just 4 years before being called into play as a bolt-hole for the RIC constables. Within, it possesses two smallish rooms on the ground floor, and four quite small bedrooms up a tidy wooden stairs. The building is attractive in every regard, despite it’s small size. It may be the effect of the clean lime-washed walls and smart paint-work, but the care of the staff has contributed to a sense of solid cosiness that only a winter experience could confirm or deny.
Cosy beyond any doubt, however, was the atmosphere in the garden to the front of the house where the legendary winner of Ireland’s first Gold Olympic Medal addressed the participants. The last Saturday in July should be a good day for an outdoor speech, and so it was on Saturday 25th.
In such a quiet place even the sound of the millions of wings of flies buzzing in the nearby fields, freshly cut for hay, could be heard as a distinct and slightly pleasant hum. There was no difficulty hearing Mr Delany speak.
He is an interesting an engaging speaker, and recounted some of his story. He reminded the people present that in the 1950’s when he left Ireland, though he was leaving voluntarily unlike those from the 1850’s, the ‘Irish Wake’ was still common practice, as there was no guarantee that emigrants then would ever return or ever meet their loved ones again.
He spoke of John Joe Barry, known as the Ballincurry Hare for his lightning speed, who was the first Irishman to open the doors to Villanova University near Philadephia, and where Ronnie Delany himself would eventually go, followed in turn by such greats as Eamonn Coughlan.
He told of his journey to the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and of their plane stopping frequently for fuel and maintenance (it was 1956, remember!) as they island-hopped their way to their destination. In so many places that he landed there were Irish missionaries, that he modestly added, “with so many blessings from priests, it was no wonder I won the olympics”.
There may be truth in that, as that Olympic also saw a silver and three bronze medals amongst the luggage on the return home!
The Famine Warhouse 1848 is an unusual heritage monument, peacefully lost amid rolling hills and generous farmland. It’s situation is peaceful, and unashamedly rural in a way that Tipperary does very well.
To stand in the room where almost 170 years previously constables of the RIC had sheltered, while William Smith O’Brien bravely approached the window to declare “We are all Irishmen—give up your guns and you are free to go” is a exercise in imagination, as one tries to guess what may have gone through the minds of those men.
It is hard to understand those times. One of the exhibits upstairs tells of the fate of two of the Young Irelanders, Mary Ann Kelly – a poet – and Kevin Izod O’Doherty, who after a sentence of transportation became a politician. Between them they had 8 children, only 1 of whom outlived their parents. We easily forget that our lives today are immeasurably easier than for those who went before.
But one thing which need not be guessed at, is that the Warhouse is worth a second visit, as is the nearby quiet Commons village where the crossroads bears speaks freely of the proud history of those who passed before.
Cllr Séamie Morris of Sinn Féin has offered his highest praise for the organising committee of the Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan. He commends them for their amazing feat in bringing the Munster Fleadh to Nenagh, and the manner in which they pulled off the successful running of the week-long event. The event finished on Friday and brought 15,000 people to the town.
Cllr Morris said: “As a councillor I have never doubted the capacity of Nenagh to hold such events. I have put my political lifeblood into encouraging sports and heritage tourism to the area. I set up the sports tourism grant initiative to do just that.”
“Now the Ormond branch of Comhaltas have raised the bar in Nenagh even further. Part of my thinking was to encourage a partnership approach between community, businesses and the council. I know that Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan could not have worked as well as it did without such a co-operative approach. Comhaltas and I have shown that co-operation benefits everyone.“
“This event took years of planning by the local Fleadh committee. Their many, many hours of planning meant a flawless week long event. Events were sold out and many thousands of people came to our town, many for the first time.”
“The Nenagh Tidy Towns committee made the town look spectacular, and the people and businesses of the town offered Nenagh’s famous welcome to spectators and participants alike. Our local schools played a huge role in making their halls available for the competitions, and local clubs provided volunteers to man car parks.”
“I am aware that some small things might have been done better, but the overall success of the Fleadh has put the name of Nenagh out there for future events. There will be repeat visits from participants and supporters. Nenagh has firmly been engrained on their minds as a safe and fun place to bring their families into the future.”
“I must also congratulate my fellow Nenagh councillor Cllr Hughie McGrath for his efforts, which also contribute to the St Patrick’s Day Parade and the upcoming Peoples Picnic.”
“Looking to the future, I am reminding townspeople that there is a committee being formed to maximise the benefits of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) AGM in Tipperary next year.
“That will be a week-long event. It’s coming to Tipperary in June 2016 thanks to my efforts and those of Cllr McGrath. Nenagh is very much open for business. So much so that if anyone has any ideas about organising sporting, musical or cultural events for the town please contact either myself or Cllr McGrath. Your two Nenagh councillors will be glad to assist.
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of making ludicrous claims about the reasons for emigration at the MacGill Summer School .
Gerry Adams said: “Despite the Taoiseach’s ludicrous claims this evening, income tax is not the main reason preventing emigrants returning home.
“What has caused so many people to leave this State are the brutal and destructive austerity policies being pursued by Mr Kenny’s Government and his Fianna Fáil predecessors.
“It is the lack of employment opportunities for young people, the fact that ordinary workers are put to the pin of their collar by a range of stealth charges, and the destruction of public services that is preventing emigrants returning. Mr Kenny didn’t propose anything to change this.
“Enda Kenny’s comments that a Government involving Sinn Féin would be a ‘gamble’ are also nonsense.
“He reiterated his intention that if re-elected, he will continue the same political path that has caused so much hardship.
“What citizens need and want is a progressive Government that will stand up for their interests, end relentless austerity, rebuild our economy. That is Sinn Féin’s focus.
“The Taoiseach should let citizens make the choice now by calling a General Election.”
Cllr Davy Dunne of Sinn Féin attended a meeting on Monday 20th of the Suir Valley Environmental Group in Newtown School outside Carrick-on-Suir. He was there to show his support for the committee and residents as they resist the imposed conversion of their rural community into an industrial site by outside interests seeking to set up a wind-farm.
The meeting was attended by over 100 people, many of whom had previous experience fighting against such intrusion into their rural idyll by outside developers. They heard about the difficulties that would be faced by school children, older residents, and the community generally from the large turbines and the associated construction traffic.
The meeting also heard about the threat to the extensive range of wildlife – some of it endangered, all of it part of an ecosystem only now recovering from previous neglect.
The proposed project is also a threat to a valuable archaeological site on Curraghdobbin Hll, where there is one of only about 50 hill-forts in Ireland. These are particularly rare in comparison to ring forts of which there are many thousands.
Cllr Dunne said, “I was very impressed by how well organised this meeting and the community are. They have outlined in one evening so many perfectly valid reasons why this proposed wind-farm doesn’t sit well with the location chosen for it.”
“Because the issue of pylons and wind-farms affects so many localities now, this community have had the wisdom to connect with the others, and to share their experiences.”
“I must particularly compliment the school and it’s staff, in particular principal Bríd FitzGerald for helping to take a public education approach to the threat this wind-farm represents. Bríd is a experienced campaigner, having fought long and hard to defend the students in her school in the past.”
“I am optimistic that the community in Newtown Upper, Faugheen and surrounds will triumph over the plan to install 126 metre-high turbines in an area of such high visual amenity, and with such valuable archaeological heritage”, added Cllr Dunne. “I am available to help them in any way that I can.”