Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New school builds must be matched by investment in pay for newly qualified teachers – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien

New school builds must be matched by investment in pay for newly qualified teachers – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien 25 September 2012 Commenting on today’s announcement of 100 new school building to be built over the next five years to meet the significant rise in the number of children entering the primary sector, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has said this capital expenditure must be matched in the provision of resources for new teachers entering the profession. Deputy O’Brien said: “In welcoming today’s announcement by Minister Quinn to build 100 new schools over the next five years there also needs to be a matching commitment of resources to ensure we attract the best candidates into the teaching profession. “I believe that the 14% cut in pay and the loss of allowances for newly qualified teachers has badly damaged the moral and goodwill that is essential within a class room setting. Clearly, the unfair targeting of teachers has disincentivised many from pursuing a career within the Irish education sector and has succeeded in creating serious disparities in pay. “Having state-of-the art school buildings is all well and good but this needs to be matched by the type of investment that will ensure we can attract people into teaching who have the skills and motivation to deliver the school curriculum in the future.” Deputy O’Brien also acknowledged the Minister’s commitment to ensuring innovative designs for new school builds but said this vision for the future must also be applied to the existing school’s estate. “There are hundreds of schools across this State,” he continued, “that are forced to teach children in sub-standard classrooms with port-a-cabins still an unwelcome feature of many schools. “It is important therefore, that when considering the capital expenditure needed to build new schools that money is found to upgrade and improve existing buildings and facilities. “This must be a key priority for the Minister in the time ahead.”

Jonathan O'Brien TD oration at the Volunteer Diarmuid O'Neill Commemoration

Jonathan O'Brien TD oration at the Volunteer Diarmuid O'Neill Commemoration 23/9/12 Every year Republicans gather to commemorate the live and death of Vol. Diarmuid O’Neill and to be asked to speak at today’s commemoration is a great honour for me personally. Sometimes it is hard to try and find the words that would do justice to or accurately reflect the gratitude and humility we feel for our patriot dead. I know from speaking to many Republicans in the lead up to today’s commemoration, that the loss of Diarmuid is still felt by his many comrades in the Republican Movement. I can only imagine that that sense of loss and hurt pales in comparison to that which must be felt by his father Eoghan, mother Theresa, brother Shane and sister Siobhán. I never had the privilege of meeting Diarmuid yet his sacrifice and the sacrifice of all other IRA Volunteers who lost their lives in the pursuit of Irish Freedom inspires me. It is what drives us every day to work harder to finally achieve what they dedicated their lives to. A 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic. Although I never knew Diarmuid I have heard much about him and the type of person he was. I know that Diarmuid was a young man of integrity, loyalty with a great love of Ireland. Born and raised in London, from an early age Diarmuid took an interest in Irish culture and nationalism and spent much of his time between County Cork and London. As well as having a deep sense of the injustice inflicted by British forces in Ireland, Diarmuid took a keen interest in International liberation movements throughout the world, particularly the Basque country which he visited on several occasions before his death. Diarmuid was just 27 years young when he was killed by the Metropolitan Police during a raid on his flat in the early hours of September 23rd, 1996. While the primary reason for gathering here today is to pay tribute to Diarmuid we should also use the occasion to rededicate ourselves the cause he spent his life trying to achieve, the cause of Irish Freedom. Just as the strength, courage, determination and commitment displayed by the men and women of 1916 acted as an inspiration for volunteers like Diarmuid. We should use the some of the same qualities Diarmuid displayed in his life to act as an inspiration in everything that we do today. Diarmuid joined the IRA to not only help free Ireland of British occupation but because he had a deep belief believe that the establishment of a Democratic Socialist Republic was in the best interests of the Irish people. For volunteers like Diarmuid the struggle was about more than just uniting 26 and 6, it was about building the type of Republic envisaged in the Proclamation. That is now the challenge facing those of us gathered here today, it is now a political challenge we must meet and overcome if we are to truly commemorate the sacrifice of Volunteers like Diarmuid. Make no mistake comrades, no one else going to achieve the Republic on our behalf. In my role as a political activist I get to spend a lot of time in Leinster House where I hear the word Republic used a lot by partionist politicians. However, the Republic that these partionist politicians in FF, FG and Labour speak about is not the Republic that Diarmuid strived to achieve. They speak of a 26 County so called Free State, where corrupt politicians and corrupt developers got rich on the back of hard pressed citizens. It is a so called Republic where, for far too long, the political elite have fostered a culture of dependency by citizens, a society built on a corrupt system. The Republic they speak of is not the Republic we will ever settle for. The Republic we speak of, the Republic we work every day to bring to fruition is the same Republic that Diarmuid believed in. It is a 32 County Republic which guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities for all of its citizens and one which cherishes all of the children of this island equally. The Republic we seek to build is inclusive and respectful of all traditions and cultures and as I said earlier, we cannot rely on anyone but ourselves to achieve it. We are the people who must take the lead in shaping a New Republic. To do so will mean sometimes mean taking courageous and hard decisions, decisions that Republicans have never shied away from taking in the past and will not shy away from taking in the future. Achieving the Republic we envisage will mean addressing the many economic and social issues facing Irish people in today’s society. In this state it will mean address the 450,000 people currently unemployed, assisting the hundreds of thousands of others struggling to survive Stemming and reversing the emigration of our most educated and intelligent young people who are the very life blood of any Nation. In the 6 counties it will mean convincing those from the Unionist and Loyalist community that their interests will be better served in a United Island. Here in the 26 Counties, FG & Lab were given a mandate to change the disastrous economic road that FF was leading us down. Despite their pre-election promises to do so they are now happily implementing FF policy further eroding our economic sovereignty at a time when Republicans in the 6 are fighting to regain economic sovereignty from London. The British Tory parties’ economic policy of Austerity and cutbacks threatens to destroy all of the social progress we have made since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Just as we are leading the fight back against Austerity in this State we will do the same in the North, regardless of our position in Government. We will never be forced into a corner where we are seen to be defending Tory cuts, nor will we be put in the comprising position of being forced to implement them. That is why we announced last Thursday that we will not be supporting the Tories programme of welfare cuts. Republicans are not in Government in the 6 counties to service Stormont or implement the Tory agenda and the Brits would be wise to never forget that point. Stormont for us is a site of struggle and an institution which we ultimately want replaced with a true Dail Eireann representing all 32 Counties. Remember, Sinn Féin has a mandate from the Irish people to oppose these cuts unlike the Tory party who has no mandate in this country to implement them. Speaking of mandates, the last general election in this State, as we all know, saw Sinn Féin increase its political strength but comrades that election is history so we must now start planning for next set of elections we face in 2014. Already plans are well under way in every Cumann right across this State to ensure that we continue to build our political strength. One of the challenges facing us is to be in a position where we can give every citizen in this State the opportunity to cast their vote for a Sinn Féin candidate. That will be easier said than done though. In order to be in that position we need to build an organisation fit for purpose with the strength and depth to deliver on our goals and objectives. We need more women and young people and those who have made Ireland their home in recent years. We are all in this together and every member of Sinn Féin has a role to play, whether you’re the party President or the newest member. Unlike other political parties we are not interested in winning seats just for the sake of it. We seek political office in order to bring about real change and building political strength to advance our primary goal of Irish Unity is a key element of what we do. Be under no illusions comrades, our political opponents will fight us every step of the way. The establishment will rally against us as our Republican politics continue to find favour with a growing number of people. With every passing week and month we are convincing more and more people that Sinn Féin is a credible alternative that they can trust and believe in. The stronger we become the closer we get to achieving our objective of realising the New Republic we all dream and work towards. And when the day comes that we have a 32 county Republic we will once again gather here at the graveside of Diarmuid and at the gravesides of other fallen Volunteers the length and breadth of this Nation, content in the knowledge that we have completed the task they gave their lives for. There will be no more a fitting tribute to our patriot dead so comrades, go from here today even more determined to do ensure that that day comes sooner rather than later.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cllr. Mick Nugent states that Labour motion on Minister O’Reilly another example of Disarray in Government Parties

Press Release Cllr. Mick Nugent states that Labour motion on Minister O’Reilly another example of Disarray in Government Parties Sinn Fein Cllr. Mick Nugent has welcomed the passing by Cork City Council of a motion calling for a reversal of health cuts by Minister James O’Reilly but described the motion as piece of game-playing and a further illustration of disunity among Government parties. Cllr. Nugent made the comments during a debate on a motion from Labour Councillor Michael O’Connell calling on Minister O’Reilly to reverse purposed cuts to the health service. The Sinn Fein representative stated: “While I welcome the passing of the motion, which did not have the complete support of Labour Cllrs, it was bemusing that Labour Cllrs could oppose similar motions including a ‘No Confidence’ motion in Minister O’Reilly put forward by Sinn Féin. I also made the point in the debate that I was extremely disappointed but not surprised that Minister Kathleen Lynch, along with Eamon Gilmore, came out in such strong support of the Health Minister in the Dáil recently, a Minister whose agenda has been to cut services at the point where they are most accessible and beneficial to ordinary people. I recognise that the Minister has a responsibility to her governmental colleagues but it just shows how far the Labour party has fallen. The party no longer seems interested in the problems facing communities. I believe a lot of people on Cork’s Northside would question whether Kathleen Lynch’s confidence in the Minister is retrospective to the decision to close St.Mary’s Hospital. For Kathleen Lynch to say that the Minister is doing a tremendous job is quite bizarre and runs contrary to the recent publication of the HSE Performance Report, and it seems a number of her colleagues in Cork City Council do not agree with her”. ENDS For further comment please contact Cllr. Mick Nugent on 0876755793

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sinn Féin education spokesperson “appalled” at bullyboy tactics of Clare Co Council

Sinn Féin education spokesperson “appalled” at bullyboy tactics of Clare Co Council Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien TD said he is “appalled and shocked” at the decision of Clare County Council to seek proof from college grant applicants that they or their families had paid the Household Charge. The Cork North Central TD criticised Education Minister Ruairí Quinn for describing the actions of the Clare council as “reasonable” and for suggesting other councils might introduce similar measures. Deputy O’Brien continued: “The decision by Clare County Council to vet third level applicants is likely to breach of the rights of applicants to be independently assessed for a grant. It is yet another attempt at coercing hard pressed families into paying a grossly unfair charge that many have withheld on a point of principle. “Increasing numbers of third level students from low and middle income families already face significant barriers when attempting to accessing higher education and for Clare County Council to make processing grants conditional on paying the Household Charge is quite simply shocking. “With today’s recommencement of the sitting of the Dáil, Sinn Féin will be challenging Minister Quinn and his government colleague Environment Minister Phil Hogan on this matter, which is yet another example of the bully boy tactics that has characterised their efforts to enforce this indiscriminate tax.”

Monday, September 3, 2012


CLLR. CHRIS O’LEARY IS NOT SEEKING PAY RISE Sinn Fein leader on Cork City Council, Cllr.Chris O'Leary, has repudiated recent media reports by confirming that he is not seeking a pay rise of any kind. Cllr. O'Leary stated: "It is untrue that I or any other Sinn Fein councillor is seeking a pay rise. The main issue, surrounding pay, that we have raised is the exorbitant salary being paid to the Lord Mayor. Sinn Fein is calling for a cut to the payment of €120,000 per annum along with additional payments made to councillors for attending conferences and for chairing Strategic Policy Committees." Cllr. O'Leary has been the main critic of the Lord Mayor's salary and the perks associated with the office. He continued saying: "These payments are questionable at the best of times but are unacceptable given the financial situation in which the council finds itself. The Lord Mayor's payment should be reduced to €35,000 which is close to the average industrial wage. The payment of €6,500 to the Deputy Lord Mayor should be abolished along with a complete moratorium on all conferences. These conference cost the city €145,700 a year. I am also calling for the scrapping of the €10,000 payment to councillors who chair four Strategic Policy Committee meeting a year." "It is indefensible that such extravagant payments are being made at a time when Minister Phil Hogan and the Local Authority Management Agency are enforcing a programme of financial penalisation against councils in order to subsidise the government's continuation of bailing out toxic banks. You cannot advocate on behalf of ordinary people while justifying a huge salary for a post that is effectively ceremonial." Cllr. O Leary was adamant that the council will have to consider ways of dealing with the programme of financial penalisation that will limit its impact on citizens. "Plainly there are areas of council expenditure which could be trimmed without hitting services to the public. Sinn Fein will be putting forward alternative proposals to the council at the meeting. We believe that these proposals will help ensure that the cuts fall where they will have the least impact on struggling families and communities." ENDS