IDA: Nothing to see here, move along

PRESS RELEASE

2015-10-26

Cllr Séamie Morris of Sinn Féin has slated the present Government’s attitude to Tipperary. He says that through Uisce Éireann there is a threat to Lough Derg, and that the recently announced Mid-West Action Plan doesn’t do enough for the county.

Cllr Morris said: “Tipperary, especially parts of North Tipperary and Carrick-on-Suir in the South, are bereft of employment. The recent action plan outlined to Tipperary Council doesn’t do enough for the county. There aren’t enough visits from the IDA to show that they’re serious about alleviating our unemployment problems.”

What is clear, however, is that our State is eyeing Tipperary’s only lake, Lough Derg, as a resource to be exploited through the monster that is Irish Water.”

This natural resource, which is part of the birthright of every Tipperary citizen, is an invaluable resource for tourism purposes. Between fishing and sailing on the lake it is a major driver of tourism potential. That it should be under threat to feed the insatiably leaky pipes in Dublin is a major concern, especially as employment in tourism would be harmed by this.”

2015-09-11-IMG_0022-edited
2015-09-11: Séamie Morris pauses to enjoy the view from The Lookout.

Citizens outside Dublin generally don’t get the same attention as those in the capital. The rural economy is creaking, and ready to collapse, as more services are shut down, and as small farmers struggle in the absence of dairy quotas. Meanwhile, gangs are marauding up and down the motorway, unhindered.”

I would expect that if this Government were serious about caring for Tipperary it would launch a major action plan for this county alone. The inaction doesn’t say much for the two ministers who reside in this constituency.”

As it is, the attitude from the IDA seems to be ‘nothing to see here, move along’. When we met they weren’t interested in answering questions, or taking on board suggestions.”

I am calling on the IDA to launch a major jobs initiative for Tipperary, and on the Government to support this with educational initiatives for rural and town dwellers alike.”

As a predominantly rural county there should not be any difficulty locating agribusiness here, to support and boost the operations of small farmers.”

Photographs (by Teresa Collins, Portroe)

What are you doing for a new republic?

Sinn Féin are again reminding everyone that they should check the register to make sure they’re registered to vote.

We also suggest that if you’ve had enough of the same-old, same-old, you should join Sinn Féin to work to build a second, better republic.

Sinn Féin stands for progress, fairness, and equality. You can help our work by joining now, or just volunteering to help with our constituency and election work.

Beidh sí níos fearr le Sinn Féin!

Council must launch constituency information campaign

2015-10-14: Dromineer resident Laurens Ter Veer, Cllr Carol Nolan (Sinn Féin, Offaly), Cllr Séamie Morris (Sinn Féin, Tipperary), Damian O’Donoghue in Dromineer. Dromineer isn’t where you think it is anymore. It’s moved!

PRESS RELEASE

2015-10-19

Cllr Séamie Morris has hit out strongly at the rearrangement of electoral boundaries in Tipperary, Offaly, and Waterford, without informing citizens that they’re now in a new constituency. He has called for Tipperary Council to start a campaign to inform voters of the changes.

Cllr Morris said: “When we’re out canvassing we’re discovering people – at both ends of the constituency – who don’t know that the constituency boundaries have changed. Some of these don’t know that electorally, they’ve moved to Waterford or Offaly. They think they’re still in Tipperary.”

I’ve drawn attention to this issue since early summer, and have been in contact with the Election Department in the council to inform the almost 11,000 Tipperary people who have been moved. There is serious confusion amongst people.”

Those voters deserve to be notified so they can focus their media attention on the prospective candidates. We all listen to each candidate but pay special attention to those from the constituency where we’ll be voting ourselves.”

I strongly believe that changing the electoral boundaries in such a way strikes at the heart of the identity of small villages and townlands, and at their very sense of community. The very least that the Department should do is communicate with each voter directly – in writing – to let them know what’s being proposed.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
2015-10-14: Cllrs Séamie Morris and Carol Nolan stopped off in The Lake Café in Dromineer for a break in canvassing.

Because Sinn Féin campaigns across constituency boundaries, I have been canvassing with my opposite number in Offaly, Cllr Carol Nolan, and she with me in Tipperary. We have both seen the confusion and surprise – first hand – when voters realise they’ve been turfed out of their own constituency, and into another.”

I have asked the Election Department to produce a website with an interactive map to allow voters to check where they’re going to vote. I am not happy with the response so far.”

Voter apathy is an ongoing problem and isn’t helped by pushing the involved citizens into places where they don’t want to vote, places different to where they have always associated themselves and identified as being part of.”

Changing the electoral boundaries without giving adequate notice to the voter is depriving them of their right to plan. Telling them at the last minute on a polling card is anti-democratic.”


Photographs (by Teresa Collins, Portroe)

Budget 2016 a missed opportunity to address Tipperary housing crisis

PRESS RELEASE

2015-10-13

Cllr Séamie Morris of Sinn Féin has expressed his disappointment that the Government has again failed to meaningfully address the housing crisis. He says that the proposed NAMA intervention isn’t as good as it looks, once it’s examined more closely, and that the failure to properly regulate the rental market leaves many in a precarious position.

Cllr Morris said: “This budget was an opportunity to show imagination and determination to address the housing crisis. Every day Sinn Féin councillors make representations on behalf of constituents seeking housing. As a society we must look out for our most vulnerable, but every day we fear we’ll hear of the next homeless person dead on our streets.”

While the Government claim to invest big money in housing, we’re not even being returned to the funding we saw before they took office, when there was already a housing crisis.”

At the present time, nationally, there are 100,000 families in need of housing, nearly 1,400 children in emergency accommodation, and rents are rising steeply – up nationally by 35% since 2011. There is a need for a level of investment that this government is not committing to. This crisis will continue, because our Government, and our Tipperary Ministers, will it to.”

In Tipperary there are over 2,000 people approved and awaiting housing. These are families and young people who would benefit from NAMA property being released quickly, or moved to the completion stage. There are also 121 council properties vacant in this county alone, while the Novis shelters in Nenagh and Thurles have to turn away people who need their help because there are so many homeless they can’t all be accommodated.”

My concern is that this Government is taking this long slow approach because they don’t want to upset the rental income of landlords. They want to preserve the status quo, instead of solve the crisis. That seems clear from the choices they are making.”

Sinn Féin proposed an increase of 300 million in capital investment for 2016 and we showed how it could be achieved. This is a necessary level of investment to tackle such a large problem with such severe human costs. The budget announcement amounts to just 5% of what we believe was needed.”

I am intrigued by the affordable housing pilot scheme. Innovation is welcome, but more detail is needed. Is this is the same money promised in the last Budget, but which never materialised? Can we trust them now?”

I also want to see a lot more detail on the proposals by NAMA to provide 20,000 houses for sale or rent. That looks good at first until you realise that NAMA struggled for nearly 4 years to provide just less than 1,400 units for social leasing, and none of those were in Tipperary.”

I want to know why these properties are not being prioritised for use for social housing, and why our Tipperary Ministers allowed this opportunity to help the vulnerable to slip by.”

Cashel library protesters praised – Cllr Martin Browne

PRESS RELEASE

2015-10-12

Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin has praised the large crowd who attended the protest outside Cashel Library on Saturday. He says that community action in defence of services is essential to resist the continued policy of Austerity.

Cllr Browne said: “We had a good crowd gathered in front of Cashel library to protest against the proposed reduction in the hours of this service. These were ordinary people standing against Austerity, which would see the library closed on Saturdays.”

I brought these new cuts to public attention via the local media, because many of these cuts to our services happen so quietly. This resulted in a lot of anger amongst the people of the town and surrounding areas. There was also initial confusion arising from the lack of clarity around the new rosters.”

I – among others – remained in constant contact with the Director of Services and was delighted to be able to give word on Thursday that the council were now going to be in a position to hire extra staff and that these measures would be temporary.”

2015-10-10-MartinBrowneSeamusHealy-PlusOthers-IMG_1147-edited
2015-10-10: At the library services cut-back protest were Cllr Martin Browne, Séamus Healy TD, Timmy Henchy, Aindrias Fogarty, Ollie Ryan.

I was pleased to speak at the protest, where I assured the assembled crowd that I would continue to fight at council level for full restoration of the lost hours. The proposed cuts were to be on Saturdays, the only day that many working parents are free to bring children to the library themselves.”

But, I must condemn the non-appearance of other local public representatives, especially the local junior Minister. That Minister happily walked into the library the day before to make a claim that he was after solving the issue with the county manager. He had no problem making such claims on his social media page, 24 hours late to claim credit.”

There is also concern that someone sent out word earlier on Saturday that the protest was called off. This kind of dirty trick is despicable.”

Tipperary Sinn Féin wish to compliment the other speakers, especially the Principals from the primary schools, and the representative from the parent’s association who gave detailed accounts of how they use the library services. It is clear that even temporary closure would be a loss in their private and working lives.”

Education of children is the single most important undertaking of any society, and a strong and well-supported library is part of the social infrastructure required for that.

 

Photographs (by Teresa Collins, Portroe)

2025-10-09: Cover: Cllr Browne listens attentively to one of the other speakers.

 

Morris welcomes sports capital funding for Nenagh AFC

PRESS RELEASE
2015-10-13

Cllr Séamie Morris has welcomed the allocation of €200,000 in new funding for Nenagh AFC. He says he is pleased to see the project which he helped start come to fruition and to continue to prosper.

Cllr Morris said: “I welcome the announcement of €200,000 in new sports capital funding for Nenagh AFC in the latest round of allocations.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cllr Séamie Morris, Ciarán Scully Nenagh AFC Chairman, James Scott Irish Under-16 Manager and North Tipperary Regional Development Officer.

He said: “I was the secretary of Nenagh AFC when they first set their sights on the 12 acre site on the Birr Road in Nenagh. We persuaded 75 people to become shareholders of the Brickfields site which raised the initial money for the purchase of what was then bog-land. Since then up to €2 million has been spent on the site transforming tit into a busy sports complex with many different sporting organisations benefiting from the facilities there.”

“When I originally set up the sports tourism grants I realised that there was a glaring deficit in our facilities in Tipperary for catering for Sports Tourism. There was no full All-weather pitch in Tipperary, so I set aside €50,000 in Nenagh Town Council. I protected that fund when Nenagh Town council was closed. And I transferred the money into Nenagh Municipal area’s first budgetary fund.”

“I then challenged clubs and organisations to provide an All-weather pitch for the area. At the announcement of the €200,000 grant last Saturday, Nenagh AFC’s Chairman Ciarán Scully said that his club took on that challenge.”

“That kick-started them into negotiations with the North Tipperary Schoolchildren’s League and the FAI. This has resulted in a partnership which will see the NTSL and the FAI turn the Brickfields into an FAI regional centre which. This will transform the provision of top class soccer for the region into the future.”

Nenagh A F C photo all weather pitch phot
Stephen Glynn North Tipperary Schoolchildren’s League, Ciarán Scully Nenagh AFC, Noel Coonan, Ger Darcy cllr and Municipal Chair, Cllr Séamie Morris, Mark McKenna NTSL, Seamus Coffey Nenagh AFC Director of Finance, Gregg Browne Nenagh AFC Brickfields, James Scott North Tipperary Regional Development Officer.

“I am glad to have played a part in helping us to get to this point, and now congratulate that new partnership for their vision, and for taking up the challenge. I wish to remind them that they are very welcome to continue to approach me for the help that they know from experience I am delighted to give.”

“I also congratulate the Tipperary Regional Development Officer James Scott on his new role as the Irish International Under-16 team manager. This is a great boost for James who has been to the forefront of the very impressive North Tipperary Development Programme. Their coaching staff have already seen 10 juvenile Irish internationals have come through the development squads, making it the most successful development programme outside Dublin.”

Pearse Doherty Budget 2016 Speech

Pearse Doherty Budget 2016 Speech

Despite all the promises, the rhetoric and the spin of the last few weeks what you’ve presented today Minister is the epitome of the boom bust politics of the past.

The cut to the USC and changes to PRSI will put more than three times more in the pocket of someone earning €70,000 a year compared to the average worker. For those earning €25,000 you are giving them a meagre €227 annually yet for individuals earning over €70,000 you’ve put over €900 back into their pockets.

By reducing Capital Gains Tax by 13 percentage points for some over night and reducing tax on wealth this government has hallowed out the tax base for the long-term.

You truly have stolen Fianna Fáil’s clothes Minister. This is the kind of giveaway Budget that Charlie McCreevy himself would be proud of.

By reducing the USC in an unequitable way, cutting CGT and raising the threshold for CAT, and reducing corporation tax, you are hollowing out the tax base for the long term- reducing the state’s coffers by 882 million euro – and you are doing so in a manner that is deeply dishonest.

Nuair atá tusa ag caint faoin faoiseamh seo atá á tabhairt agat do pinsinéirí nó do tuismitheoirí atá ag tabhairt aire do leanaí le míchumais diana, níl tusa ag insint dóibh an fhírinne ná nach bhfuil rún agat na tacaíochtaí seo a chur ar fáil go fadtéarmach.

That is the folly of boom bust politics.

You have set your face against meaningful long-term investment in Ireland’s infrastructure and frontline services.

This means your growth policy is just not credible.

Today you tell us that your ambition for frontline services is that they make do with what they have, and you stand over your policy to starve health, education and childcare of the resources necessary to deliver public services we can be proud of, and that are conducive to growth.

Today’s budget hold no resemblance to the Proclamation or to the Democratic Programme.

You have not delivered equal rights and equal opportunities to all Ireland’s citizens, in fact you have resolved to only pursue the happiness and prosperity of the top 14% – stuffing €181.9 million into her pockets through USC reduction throwing a few crumbs from the table to everyone else

This is not the future that the women and men of 1916 envisioned for their country.

Today’s budget offered this Government a real opportunity to finally break from the failed politics of the last 20 years, instead you have copper-fastened it.

Taxation measures

You’ve increasing the threshold of inheritance tax to €280,000, one of the few mechanisms in the taxation code to capture wealth.

Let us be very clear about who benefits in the main from this budget.

Fifty per cent of workers in Ireland earn €28,500.

So when you tell us that your budget seeks to alleviate the taxation pressure on salaries of around €70,000 what you are in fact telling the people is that this budget is targeted towards the top 14 per cent of earners.

There is a deep inequity in Ireland’s taxation system.

€181.9 million of tax reduction are going to the top 14% of earners.

The bottom 10 per cent of earners spends 30 percent of their income on direct and indirect taxes. The top ten per cent spend 29% of their income on direct and indirect taxes.

This is the outcome of your previous budgets where you moved taxes on income to flat indirect regressive taxes.

It is because of this deep inequity that Sinn Fein has committed to ending the water charges and abolishing the family home tax.

Tá ceann amháin de na rátaí pá is isle againn anseo in Éirinn sa domhan forbatha, agus tá tearcfhostaíochta agus neamhshláine post le feiceáil go forleathan.

The best you could rustle up for the low paid is a meagre increase of 50c in the national minimum wage and you remain mute on the need for a living wage.

In real terms there has been no increase in the Minimum Wage since 2007.

Sinn Féin would increase the Minimum Wage by €1 per hour bringing a full time minimum wage up to €19,572 a year, and we would increase employee and employer PRSI bands in line with this increase.

We support the introduction of the Living Wage and as the largest employer the state should lead the way. We have provided for the introduction of a Living Wage across the civil service, and want to see this extended across the public sector as well as all commercial and non-commercial semi-state bodies.

It is a nonsense for anyone on the government benches to claim that this budget is a budget with families and small businesses in mind.

It is budget for the elites, for multi-nationals and high earners. It is anti-sustainable growth, it is anti-investment, and its anti-public services.

Fiscally reckless

It is also fiscally reckless Minister. Ireland has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios in Europe.

That is why we have low investment in public services and higher costs of living. You like Fianna Fáil have increased out of pocket expenses for families and in many instances have placed basic services and fundamental needs out of reach for whole swathes of the population.

What more basic need is there than a home.

Last week a little girl was interviewed for a radio segment on family homelessness. In describing her experience of living in a B&B she said – “I don’t like it here. I’m not looking forward to Christmas. I don’t know how Santy is going to get in, and I dunno where we are gonna go.”

The interviewer then asked her what it is like in her head when she wakes up in the B&B in the morning.

The little girl replied, “Well, sad and worried. And I feel like, bad, cause when you are just going down for breakfast you’re just sitting there with your Da eating your breakfast with no friends or anything.”

This little girl is not alone. There are 1,500 homeless children and their families who are living this experience every day.

One in eight children are now going hungry, are without warm clothes or are homeless or living in substandard housing.

So after waltzing in here Minister with a book full of measures that hallow out the taxation base and throw a few crumbs in the direction of our public services and infrastructure – spare a thought for this little girl, and the tens of thousands of children like her.

She is the direct consequence of your policies.

So what are the other outcomes of your policies Minister?

Child poverty has risen under your watch.

Income inequality has risen under your watch.

Family homelessness has risen under your watch.

You’ve even managed to bring the public health system to a new level of catastrophe.

There are record numbers waiting for treatment with 401,000 patients on the outpatient waiting list and 69,000 are waiting for inpatient or day case treatment.

300 patients are left languishing on trollies on any given day, and it is now the norm for children to wait two years to be assessed by a speech and language therapists, and there are up to 130,000 families on the housing waiting list.

Inequality is your badge of honour Minister.

Inequality is not just about the most vulnerable in society, it has a deeply damaging knock on effect for low and middle income families, as well as the wider economy.

Investment

Take the housing crisis.

This crisis is a grand culmination Minister of a failed government policy pursued by this government and the last.

You abandoned the provision of all housing to the private market with social housing completions as low now as they were in the 1930s.

This astonishing failure has resulted in an upwards pressure not only on supply but also on the costs of homes in Ireland, for rental and purchase.

Like so much of government policy you’ve failed to deliver a strategy that delivers a solution for all families, be they in need of social, affordable or private homes.

Tchíonn muid na fadhbanna ceanna sa chorás sláinte, agus nuair atá soláthar seirbhísí oideachais do paistí le riachtanais speisialta nó míchumais i gceist, tchíonn muid é seo arís maidir le curám leanaí inacmhainne agus inrochtana.

You have no ambition, no vision, and no hunger to deliver the type of transformative change that will improve the lives of all our communities.

On entering government you slashed the capital budget by €750 million, and despite the fiscal space available to you in 2015, and the economic environment to increase the tax base you have offered up a meagre €180 million extra in capital expenditure in next year’s budget.

Sinn Féin’s alternative

Sinn Féin has set out a very different vision to the Government parties and Fianna Fáil.

We want to deliver a fair recovery – one that invests in Ireland’s future for the long term and for the benefit of all.

We will deliver a recovery that ensures all children experience equality of opportunity be it in their education, in their access to supports and services and in their career choices as they pass into adulthood.

We want to grow an economy that is rooted in fair play. Where workers earn a decent wage and small businesses can flourish and expand.

This cannot happen by chance, and without a stable and fair tax base we cannot provide the necessary investments in education, childcare, health and infrastructure to secure stability and sustainable growth.

They’ll tell us they can take €882 million out of the tax base AND tackle hospital waiting lists, the prohibitive cost of childcare and provide long awaited mental health services.

This is of course rubbish. It’s the politics of old. It is as dishonest as it is wrong.

Sinn Féin’s Budget 2016 document sets out an ambitious alternative, because we are ambitious for what we can achieve in Government.

Unlike the parties who have held the reins of power in this institution equality is the cornerstone of Sinn Féin’s political and policy choices.

Societies that are more equal do better. Their public services are delivered more efficiently. Education is better. People are healthier. Income differentials are lower. Social cohesion is stronger. Taxation is fairer. Enterprise is more innovative.

The list goes on.

We want to stem the tide of mass emigration of our young people. A reduction in the USC will not in itself bring our young men and women back.

It is the lack of decent jobs and secure career paths, access to affordable housing and accommodation and the costs associated with health and childcare that continue to act as a barrier to their return.

And who could blame them.

Sinn Féin wants to take this challenge head on. We want to invest €1.7 billion in public services in 2016.It is only by tackling the underinvestment in health, tackling childcare costs and delivering affordable housing that we can entice our emigrants back.

CHILDCARE

We welcome the government’s decision to provide funding to deliver access to the free pre-school year for children with a disability, and the additional preschool year.

The free pre-school year is universal in name only as children with special needs are prevented from attending as the necessary supports are not provided. That is why Sinn Féin in its budget proposals has provided for 1,000 SNAs for the pre school year.

11 per cent of early-years services were forced to refuse a child with additional needs last year.

Our budget proposals also provided for an additional six weeks maternity benefit that can be taken by either parent, as well as two weeks paternity leave and an increase in Child Benefit. We welcome the fact that the Government has followed our lead in these measures.

EDUCATION

We must put investment in education centre stage. The Minister for Public Expenditure has the nerve to come in here today and trump up new teaching posts. The reality is he jhas allocated just €24 million in new spending measures. Everything else is demographics.

Year after year children and poverty agencies have highlighted the increased costs for parents to put their children through an education system that is supposed to be universal.

The damage this government has done to the education system is far reaching.

Over the course of your first three budgets you cut the education’s funding by nearly half a billion euro.

Cuts to resource teaching hours and guidance teachers have been particularly regressive hitting vulnerable kids the hardest.

You’ve hiked up the costs of third level education for struggling families by €750 a year; reduced the income thresholds for third level grants; you cut the back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance by a third for primary school children; introduced fees for apprenticeships and cuts funding to the third levels, VECs and a range of higher education bodies.

Sinn Féin would reverse the cut to Guidance teaching creating 700 additional posts, restore resource teaching hours providing 1,183 extra teachers for children with special needs and reduce primary class sizes putting 250 additional teachers into the system.

We would also increase funding to the school meal programme, the school book grants scheme and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

We would reduce the third level contribution fee by €500 going some way to ensure third level education remains within the grasp of struggling working families.

HEALTH

In health you cut services by over €2.5 billion over the course of your first three budgets. Is it any wonder that the crisis has deepened across the system?

You’ve targeted mental health, children’s services and disability services, increased the threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme by 20%, increased prescription charges for the least well off, and cut front line posts by up to 10% and slashed regional drugs related initiatives by 12%.

Sinn Féin would invest an additional €383 million in health, ensuring this investment targets areas of most acute areas of need, above the amount needed to cater for demographic pressures.

We have provided for over 1,900 additional frontline posts including consultants, nurses, midwives, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.

We also provided for an automatic medical card for children with significant medical needs arising from serious illness or disability, and invest in Emergency Departments, maternity care, mental health and disability services, dental care for workers and medical card holders, and increased emergency ambulance cover.

You’ve provided just 18m in new health spend when demographics and the pay restoration measures of the Lansdowne Road Agreement are accounted for!!!!

Garda numbers

Not a single new Garda was trained between 2010 and 2013. A paltry 200 new recruits were taken in last year and the numbers for the last two years won’t even cover the retirements. So 600 gardai in 2016 sounds like a lot but as the Minister herself acknowledged retirements are roughly 400 each year. Since entering Government the so called party of law and order has cut the strength of the Garda Síochána by nearly 10%. That is a shocking record by any standard.

Closure of Garda Stations saved less than 1 million euro.

Sinn Féin would invest in community policing by training an additional 1,000 Gardaí to ensure the strength of the force gets back to where it was before Fine Gael got its hands on the Department of Justice.

Tá na postanna úra seo i dtaca le Foireanna Túslíne, 6,500 ar an iomlán, tá siad i dteannta le na postanna a bhí de dhíth sa bhliain 2016. Tá €300 milliún curtha san áireamh sa pácáiste infheistíochta Shinn Féin le haghaidh athruithe déimeagrafacha a láimhseáil.

HOUSING

We also set out an ambitious capital investment of €400 million, two thirds of which is to be directed to tackling the housing crisis head on.

The additional €69 million announced today for housing by government is miserly, making it roughly just under a quarter of what you cut from housing budget in 2012. Again in 2013 you halved funding to local authority housing, and another 10% in 2014.

Minister, you and your colleagues have a neck to come in here with a tear in your eye after yet another homeless man has died on the streets of our capital city.

What exactly is it going to have to take before you acknowledge the scale and depth of crisis in emergency and social housing?

Sinn Féin understands the scale of the challenge ahead and that is why we have provided an extra €300 million investment for 2016 in social housing delivering 1,680 units in addition to existing government plans.

It is incredulous, and quite frankly disgusting for any government Minister to suggest that the state has a minor role to play in tackling the housing crisis.

This is not even an issue of EU fiscal restraints. If you declared a Housing Emergency flexibilities could and would be secured with our EU partners to enable the state increase its investment in social housing and emergency accommodation keeping us within the debt and deficit rules.

How many Jonathan Corrie’s have to die before you declare an Emergency Housing Crisis?

Rent certainty/Mortgages/NAMA

You haven’t even announced Rent certainty as part of the package today. In the meantime while you’ve fiddled around landlords have hiked up rents and 1,500 children and their families are now homeless as a result.

It is telling that despite all the fist waving and threats that again today we see the bank levy is not to be touched. Nor are we to have legislation to let the Central Bank set a cap on rip- off mortgage rates.

The message today for the 300,000 thousand mortgage holders with Standard Variable Rate mortgages is “you’re on your own”.

When I proposed legislation to allow the Central Bank cap mortgage rates you said “let’s wait and see”. Well, we have waited and we can see that the banks have barely nudged. You called in the troops to vote down my Bill but promised action would be taken. It hasn’t been. The bank levy will not be touched despite the increased profitability of the banks.

Only one lender has made meaningful reduction in its SVR. Now the Minister has given up and said people should shop around. You said if the banks didn’t budge you would increase the levy or legislate for a mortgage cap to be implemented by the Central Bank. You have done neither.

How can a family in negative equity just change lender?

As always the banks win, the people lose out. It is still Frankfurt’s way.

NAMA

You’ve announced a plan for NAMA to build houses like you’ve discovered the earth is round.

Welcome to what the rest of us have been calling for for years.

What is presented today illustrates another failure to tackle in full the housing crisis. There is no plan except to rely on developers. It appears that what is being proposed makes no provision for social or affordable housing.

Maybe you’ll listen to us now on the other policy measures we are proposing to deal with the housing crisis.

And then there is the crisis in domestic violence supports, which the government has not highlighted in its announcements.

Sinn Féin has also provided an extra €20 million for emergency homeless accommodation and €5.45 million for women’s refuges.

In July of this year Tusla reported that 80 per cent of women fleeing domestic violence were turned away from Dublin refuges in the first three months of this year.

Without these services, such as the Cuan Álainn refuge in Tallaght due to close by the end of the year due to a lack of funding by government, women and their children are forced into a stark choice of returning to an abusive and violent partner or become homeless.

INCOME INEQUALITY/SOCIAL PROTECTION

Income inequality has also deepened under Fine Gael and Labour. Of course we expected this of a Fine Gael government but for it to happen under a Labour coalition is astounding.

Labour has abandoned average workers and the vulnerable in equal measure.

We have a Labour Minister for employment who has refused to take action on low hour contracts, on the high levels of low paid insecure work,

A Labour Minister who has refused to even acknowledge the scale of bogus self-employment in the construction sector and has limited the work of the Low Pay Commission to focus almost solely on the minimum wage and not on the wider issues surrounding low pay and income inequality.

And then there is the Labour leader, who in her role as Minister for Social Protection regularly lectures us all on the deserving and undeserving poor.

She has set her sights on lone parents and the unemployed youth for particularly punitive cuts.

Unlike the Labour party Sinn Féin believes the vulnerable, the unemployed and low income households need support if they are to improve their circumstances in life, and that is why we have invested €289 million in tackling income inequality and providing employment activation measures that actually work.

Restoration of the Respite Care Grant cut is welcome but why did families have to endure the cut, and the myriad of cuts to social welfare and disability cuts in the first instance.

SUPPORTING BUSINESS

Ireland is a nation of small and micro-businesses with the majority of workers employed by these companies.

Government takes an either or approach to indigenous and FDI enterprise, and its enterprise and innovation policies lean heavily towards the multinationals’ at a cost to small business.

Microsoft Ireland is one of the largest exporters in the state producing €18.22bn in software exports, and it employs roughly 1,200 people in Ireland.

Irish food and drink exports were approximately €10.5 billion in 2014, yet this sector employs about 102,000 people.

Sinn Féin supports growth and investment in the FDI sector, however we need to ensure Ireland’s enterprise strategy accurately reflects where the potential jobs growth is.

Sinn Féin called for a €500 tax credit for the self-employed introducing a level of fairness for businesses be they farmers, carpenters or young entrepreneurs.

We welcome the government’s decision to introduce this credit.

We have doubled the trading online voucher scheme, dealt with the unfair exclusion of the self-employed from the Start Up Relief for Entrepreneurs, eased the administration of the tax system for businesses, provided support for Ireland’s indigenous craft beer sector and set out improved access to public procurement contracts for small and micro businesses.

We are the only party on the island pursuing a strong island economy to deliver greater cross border and export trade for Ireland’s small indigenous businesses, as well as the creation of a border economic development zone.

Conclusion

I’ll conclude with this Minister.

It is remarkable that after four and half years of deep cuts to education, to health, to social protection and increased unfair taxes targeting struggling families it is only in recent weeks that Labour has finally found its voice.

Not one of ye has had the courage of your party’s founding principles to stand up to Fine Gael’s conservative Tory agenda since entering government.

Instead you have become their greatest champions, and not for the first time.

What a difference a term in government makes.

In the closing days of the 2011 election Labour strategists reduced their entire campaign to a single message – elect us and in government we’ll soften the sharpest edges of Fine Gael.

Who can forget the Every Little Hurts advertisements?

Far from putting manners on your coalition partners ye have become more Fine Gael than Fine Gael themselves.

That is until it was your own head on the block – and lo and behold your glorious leader, Labour’s very own Countess of Grantham, is throwing her weight around like there is no tomorrow.

It appears your demands most moderate are, you only want to save your own hides.

Thousands of families have no roof over their heads, homeless people are literally dying on our streets, the health system is on the verge of collapse, child poverty is on the rise and a Labour coalition government has managed to deepen inequality on a scale not seen for decades.

Sinn Féin has set out a detailed and ambitious political alternative that puts investment centre stage – investment in services, in infrastructure, and in small businesses. All of this can be delivered through fair and sustainable taxation.

We hold dear the values and aspirations of the 1916 leaders, and we are committed to seeing them delivered upon in 2016.

Liadh Ní Riada MEP speaks at TTIP public meeting in Cork

Speaking at a public meeting in Cork City this evening, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada described The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as “a serious threat to the rights of ordinary citizens and the future of democracy within the European Union”.

She said that the TTIP legislation contains many destructive elements that will impact negatively on workers rights, agriculture and the environment in a very profound way. She stated that the legislation, particularly the controversial ISDS mechanism, was akin to the underpinnings of a dystopian society.

LiadhTTIP
Photo: Liadh Ní Riada MEP pictured with Sinn Féin General Election candidate Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire as she addresses the public meeting in the Metropole Hotel, Cork City.

Ní Riada said: “TTIP is perhaps the most destructive legislation to ever come through the European Institutions in terms of its potential to erode the rights of ordinary citizens and the very real threat that it poses to democracy in the EU.

“The ISDS mechanism is a shady, behind-closed-doors forum for corporations to sue governments. The mechanism basically undermines the democratic right of parliaments to legislate in the best interests of their people. It turns the legislative focus to the interests of multinational companies and private investors. It would undermine democracy by allowing major international companies to ride roughshod over the democratic decision of the EU.

“TTIP will have a destructive influence on every aspect of our lives and this includes agriculture. Ireland as an island is export-led in terms of agriculture. 90% of our beef is exported while 85% of our dairy produce is exported. The US is attempting to use TTIP as a Trojan Horse in order to gain access to this market. This will be a disaster for Irish beef producers because, to the unregulated environment across the Atlantic, their US counterparts do not have to bear the same costs of production.

“Ireland’s beef sector is expected to contract by a value of between €25-45 million as a result of TTIP. This would be a nightmare when you consider that the Irish Beef Sector supports 100,000 family farms.

“The erosion of the right to work is also a very alarming aspect of TTIP. The European Commission has estimated that TTIP will bring about the displacement of between 600,000 to 1 million jobs across the EU. Furthermore. The agreement will allow companies to sue states in relation to aspects of workers’ rights legislation that they want to see erased.

“It is not unreasonable to argue that TTIP represents the underpinnings of a dystopian society.

“Sinn Féin has been to the fore of the campaign against TTIP in Europe and we will continue to oppose any moves which threaten workers rights, agriculture, food safety and potentially people’s health.”

 

The government is a coalition of chaos – Adams

Sinn Féin Leader, Gerry Adams TD, this morning addressed Sinn Féin’s major national policy conference, held to help inform upcoming policy documents on housing, healthcare and childcare. Full speech below.

A chairde.

The front pages of our newspapers and almost every radio and tv news and debate have been dominated by speculation about the date of the General Election.

This is an obsession of journalists and political insiders.

Such speculation is part of the game-playing which has been a substitute for real political debate in this state for too long.

It suits some because it distracts from the real issues which are affecting so many families at this time and deepens the disillusionment with politics that is now widespread.

The Taoiseach’s refusal to deal with the issue and the obvious discomfiture of Joan Burton exposes this government as a coalition of chaos.

Mr. Kenny’s focus is on how many seats Fine Gael will win to ensure his re-election as Taoiseach.

Kenny is not being straight with the Tánaiste.

That is hardly surprising as he wasn’t straight with the electorate and has broken every commitment he made after his government was formed.

The chaos and crisis that Fine Gael and Labour have brought to this state is reflected in their approach to the north.

This Government inherited the peace process and the end of conflict in the north.

Since the government came to power progress in the north has not been a priority and their policy is dictated by Fine Gael and Labour opposition to Sinn Féin.

The Taoiseach failed to uphold the agreements. He has failed to challenge the British government on their refusal to provide information on Dublin and Monaghan or to develop a strategy to secure this. Agreements have stalled and unpicked.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have supported the Tory party cuts to welfare and to public services. They supported them because it is their policy in this state.

This government is partitionist. Austerity is not.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste need to be on the side of the Good Friday and other Agreements. Progress can be made, but we need the Irish Government to make the north a priority.

In this state Michael McGrath of Fianna Fáil was right when he said that the government had adopted Fianna Fáil policy on the economy.

What he failed to say was they also adopted Fianna Fáil policy on health and have sustained the chaos in our health services, as well as in housing, emigration and education.

Sinn Féin is presenting thoughtful, costed and effective alternative policies to tackle the issues this government has failed to resolve and in many instances has made worse.

In the battle of ideas Sinn Féin is proposing policy choices for citizens that are rooted in our republican principles of fairness and equality and inclusiveness and which are drawn from the Proclamation – the mission statement of modern Irish republicanism.

In this election republicans should be outlining what kind of society we wish to build and what a real recovery should look like.

Tá muintir na tíre seo ag iarraidh díospóireacht ceart faoin pholaitíocht.

That is what this conference is really all about.

At its core, politics is about choices and the interests that you seek to represent.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and, to their shame, the Irish Labour Party, are representing the interests of the privileged few in Irish society.

Their policies reflect this.

Sinn Féin on the other hand stands with families, with workers and indeed with those who may be better off but who believe Ireland can and should do better as a society.

Creideann muid go smior go gcaithfidh an geilleagar freastal ar na daoine agus ní a mhalairt.

We believe that citizens are entitled to secure jobs with decent pay and conditions; adequate housing and quality public services.

That belief and that vision is what must guide the important task of policy development.

The current crises in health and housing are not an accident.

They are a direct result of government policy.

And let’s not forget that those people lying on trolleys in A&E wards are our own family members, our neighbours our friends.

They are not aliens dropped from outer space.

They are us.

So too are those households in mortgage distress.

And those citizens who are homeless.

They also are us.

Just like the half a million citizens scattered across the globe as a result of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour emigration policy.

Society has become increasingly polarised and unequal after almost five years of Fine Gael and Labour in government.

Sinn Féin wants to change this; to correct this.

Sinn Féin believes that an equal society is possible.

Creideann Sinn Féin go láidir gur féidir sochaí atá cóir a chrithú.

We believe that cronyism and greed can be replaced with fairness and hope.

Sinn Fein wants to be in government to improve the quality of life for families.

We want to deliver progress on jobs, housing and health.

Sinn Féin is not a debating society. We are very, very serious about achieving these objectives.

To do that means being in government with a programme for government which advances this agenda.

Before we get to that point however, we must have a coherent, realistic and robust policy platform.

Fine Gael and Labour are now perpetuating a lie that it is possible to reduce the overall tax take while increasing investment in frontline services.

This approach means that high-earners will be the winners while average families and those citizens most dependent on public services will lose out yet again.

Sinn Féin’s policy alternative offers a different way. A better way.

Ours is a route to a fair recovery.

We want to ease the tax burden on workers and families.

We would do this by tackling unfair tax reliefs and asking those in the top 5% who earn the most to pay their fair share.

With rural communities fearful of rising crime Sinn Féin would recruit over 1000 new Gardaí next year to protect local communities.

On Thursday, as we published our alternative budget Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda had the largest trolley numbers in its emergency department in the state.

This then almost doubled by late evening forcing the hospital to go ‘off-call’ temporarily and stop taking patients.

These difficulties and many more are a response to the government’s austerity policies which have seen Garda numbers cut, Garda stations closed and our health service unable to cope with the demands being placed upon it.

Sinn Féin proposes to invest in public expenditure prioritising health, education and childcare and delivering more Gardaí, nurses, midwives, and teachers.

Sinn Féin will put between €600 and €2,000 back into the pockets of the average worker.

This is the type of tax reform that makes a real difference to families and society as opposed to the cynical auction politics of the conservative parties.

We would do this by abolishing the family home tax, stopping domestic water charges and removing minimum wage workers out of the USC.

To develop the type of fair, just and prosperous society which Sinn Féin advocates, we need a strong economy.

Sinn Féin is pro-business.

We believe that a strong economy, including a thriving enterprise sector, is essential to sustain decent, accessible public services and to protect vulnerable citizens.

Sinn Féin believes that we must support and encourage entrepreneurs, and in particular to support SMEs.

Agus anois tá na polasaithe againn chun seo uilig a chur i gcrích.

They include the introduction of a self-employed tax credit, the provision of seed capital and other measures.

Sinn Féin’s proposals would increase funding to build social houses, to tackle the homeless crisis, and to make capital investment of €400 million to grow the economy.

Our policies and proposals are firmly grounded in the republican principles of fairness and equality.

Anois tá sé in am dúinn geilleagar uile-oileánda a thógáil.

It makes no sense on a small island to have two currencies, two tax systems and two sets of public services.

Sinn Féin wants to see the beginning of a planned approach to economic development across the island.

We need to see greater all-Ireland co-operation within public services, greater support for small and medium businesses, and the creation of a Border Economic Development Zone to harmonise trade.

The Taoiseach has characterised the forthcoming election as a choice between stability and chaos.

But there is no stability for low paid workers or those on zero-hour contracts.

There is no stability for those patients and frontline workers facing chaos in our hospital A&E departments.

There is no stability for those families facing the prospect of losing their home because the Government refuses to put manners on the banks.

This Government’s idea of stability is very different to most citizens.

Their notion of stability is the maintenance of a deeply unequal status quo.

That is not the stability our people need or want.

If the Taoiseach really believes what he says, he should have the courage of his convictions and allow citizens to make the choice.

Mr Kenny should stop the game-playing of recent days, resign and call a General Election now.

Sinn Féin is ready.

We are confident that our policies will stand up to scrutiny.

We are eager for a genuine battle of ideas.

Some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil has been in government here since the foundation of that State.

But the political landscape is changing and Sinn Féin is leading that change.

We want to continue that change by leading the next Government.

Sinn Féin’s message is finding a deep resonance among citizens the length and breadth of this country.

What we need to do now is build that goodwill into an unstoppable momentum for positive change across Ireland.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916.

This is an important date in the history of our nation and will be marked with pride by people throughout the island and among the Irish diaspora.

Sinn Féin is about delivering on the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation.

We believe passionately in an agreed, united Ireland, and a real republic – a citizen-centred, rights-based society.

Today is about laying out the policy platform which can take the next step on that journey.”