Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sinn Féin to urge Cork City Council to call on Government to legislate for the 'X' Case

Sinn Féin is to bring a motion before Cork City Council next Monday evening asking councillors to call on the government to introduce immediate legislation based on the X-Case.

Tomorrow,the party will propose a Dáil motion with the aim of compelling the Government to introduce legislation based on the 1992 ruling on the Supreme Court. However, local Sinn Féin Councillors are determined that the moves to bring about such legislation are strengthened by securing support at local council level.

Sinn Féin Councillor Mick Nugent said:
“This is an issue that resonates with women right across local communities and it would be irresponsible of us, as local political representatives, not to raise it in council. The legislation is long over-due and it is only right that the call for its introduction is heard at every level of government.”

“It is time to enact legislation to protect the rights of women as decided by the Supreme Court in 1992. We must also ensure that doctors have the protection of the law to act appropriately in circumstances where the life of the woman is in danger. It’s farcical that successive Governments have failed to act on this ruling. Government TDs in Cork can call the motion ‘opportunistic” all they want. Sinn Féin policy has been in-line with the X-case judgement for well over a decade. All that aside,I honestly don’t think that the public cares where this motion comes from. The political point-scoring isn’t going to be of interest anybody. People just want meaningful action from right across the political spectrum.”

“We now have a very specific climate. It is a climate in which policy and legislation have to come to the fore. The current coalition must now respond to the demands of the public following the tragic death of Savita Halappanvar.”

“I am mindful that this is a personal and sensitive topic for many people. I also acknowledge that there are enquiries into the tragedy and we have to await the findings to know exactly what happened. However, we have an obligation to ensure that women have the right to highest quality of care throughout pregnancy. This includes the right to have a termination should the awful circumstances arise in which the mother’s life is threatened. We are asking all councillors to support the motion and to place an onus on the government to act.”

Sinn Féin motion for Cork City Council reads:
'Following the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, this council calls on the Government to immediately introduce legislation to give effect to the 1992 judgement of the Supreme Court in the 'X' Case, to protect women where their lives are in real danger and to give legal certainty to medical professionals.'

For further information please contact Cllr. Mick Nugent on 0876755793

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sinn Féin proposal to reinstate 950,000 home helps hours ‘a direct challenge’ to Government - Kerins

Sinn Féin’s Cllr.Fiona Kerins has described her party’s proposal to reinstate 95,000 home help hours as “a direct challenge” to the Minister for Health in the lead-up to December’s budget.

The party announced the measure today at the launch of its alternative budget for 2013 entitled ‘Making the right choices’.

Cllr. Kerins said:
“The line from the Minister and the Government has been that the home help cuts are unavoidable. This document lays out in black & white how that position is nonsense. It is a matter of making socially-just choices. It is a matter of priorities.”

“Having a home help for a couple of hours daily to provide social interaction, practical help and real support is invaluable to older and infirm people. However, the Government has cut over one and a half million home help hours and has sought to convince people that the decision was beyond their control.”

“Sinn Fein’s fully-costed proposal provides for the immediate reinstatement of the 950,000 home help hours cut in 2012. It is realistic and achievable if the political determination existed within the coalition to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. The reversal would cost the state €16.9 million. It is a sum that pales in comparison to the amounts being handed over to international financial speculators.”

“The proposal, on home helps, presents a clear and direct challenge to the austerity agenda of the Government. It dispels the myth that the Minister’s hands are tied in defending a cornerstone of community-based primary care.”

ENDS For further information please contact Cllr. Fiona Kerins 0851091758

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reilly must find a way to make health budget work without cuts to Cope Foundation – Sinn Féin

Reilly must find a way to make health budget work without cuts to Cope Foundation – Sinn Féin Sinn Féin is to urge Cork City Council to oppose any further cuts in funding for the Cope Foundation in the next budget. Cllr. Chris O’Leary said that the motion that the party is bringing before Council tonight will strengthen local political support for the Cork-based charity and comes in the wake of tangible public out-cry about the situation. Cllr. O’Leary said: “We know that the Cope Foundation is struggling already under the weight of the cuts imposed on it in last year’s budget. The crucial services provided by Cope will be seriously undermined if we sit back and allow the Government to slash the organisation’s budget once gain. It is simply unacceptable for Minister Reilly to say that these cuts are unavoidable. With this motion we are telling him that he must look harder. He must find a way of making the Department’s budget work without further victimising the people who depend on Cope.” “There is absolutely no justification for cutting financial support and resources especially while the number of people relying on Cope is increasing. The cuts proposed in the coming budget have plunged the organisation into an even deeper chasm of uncertainty. Cllr. O’Leary continued by stressing that the fear felt in community of people dependent on Cope is very real, present and cannot be ignored. “This isn’t a cut that will be washed away by the dawning of a new year. It will be felt far into the future and it will be visible in Cope’s decreased capacity to deliver essential services. My Sinn Féin colleagues and I have received numerous letters and e-mails from the families of most affected. I assume that representatives from the other parties have received similar communications. The anger is tangible and these cuts that these cuts will be met with fierce resistance the closer we get to the budget in December. The passing of this motion will help to strengthen political support, here in Cork, for the Cope Foundation.” “It is special needs assistants one week, home helps the next and now it’s the Cope Foundation. Where will this all end? When our social infrastructure is completely decimated? The agenda of this government is a farce. It is not about political reform or fiscal discipline. It is simply austerity. This government is making the vulnerable pay for a crisis that was created by those at the top of society.” ENDS For further information please contact that Cllr. Chris O’Leary on 0872794307 or Sinn Féin PRO Darren O’Keeffe

Survivors of the Magdalene laundries deserve better – Nugent

Survivors of the Magdalene laundries deserve better – Nugent Sinn Féin City Councillor Mick Nugent has said that the women involved in the Magadalene laundries deserve better than the result of a motion that came before the Dáil on the issue in September. The Sinn Féin motion called on the Government to provide redress for survivors of the Magdalene laundries. Unfortunately, the motion was defeated by 75 votes to 43. Now, Cllr. Nugent brings a motion before Cork City Council tonight calling on local councillors to declare their regret that the motion was defeated in Leinster House. Cllr. Nugent said: “The motion, in September, called on the Government to provide justice for the women who suffered horrifically in the Magdalene laundries . These women deserve an unconditional apology from this state. They deserve compensation and full pension rights.” “This is not a party-political issue. I hope that many of my fellow councillors, from across the political spectrum, disagree with the result of the vote in the Dáil. We very much hope to get the support of even those councillors who are representatives of the Government parties.” Cllr. Nugent stated that the women are now mostly aging and elderly and that it is great importance that their demand for justice is met urgently by the Government. “I don’t accept that the motion required any TD or any member of the Government to pre-empt the details of the forthcoming report on the issue. The content of the motion was rights-centred and focused on the injustice of the women being excluded from the Residential Institutional Redress Scheme. We have an obligation to ensure that justice is delivered as soon as possible. I don’t think the defeat of that motion at national level helped that objective. This motion presents Cork City Councillors with an opportunity to express solidarity with the women of the Magdalene laundries. They deserve better." ENDS For further information please contact Cllr.Mick Nugent on 0876755793

Sinn Féin to call on Cork City Council to oppose further cuts to Child Benefit

Sinn Féin to call on Cork City Council to oppose further cuts to Child Benefit Sinn Féin Cllr. Mick Nugent is calling on Cork City Council to oppose any further cuts in Child Benefit in the forthcoming budget. Cllr. Nugent stressed his party’s belief that the government should look to income tax rates if it is serious about targeting high-earners. Speaking on his motion which is expected to come before council tonight, Cllr. Nugent said: “We have just had a national debate surrounding the issue of children’s rights. It is now imperative that this government ensures that the needs of children are defended in December’s budget. This would be better achieved by seeking a just contribution from the wealthy in the form of income tax rather than focusing on a universal payment for children.” Cllr. Nugent continued by saying that Sinn Féin had very real concerns regarding the introduction of the proposed means test. “Where will the threshold be set? We could be faced with situations in which full payment is denied to people who are most dependent on it. The government needs to come clean regarding the details in order to calm fears as we move closer to the budget.” “The cut is unnecessary. The minister is trying to spin this one as though she is a modern-day Robin Hood. She is not taking from the rich to give to the poor. It is deplorable that a Labour minister, a member of a party who said that a vote for them is a vote to protect Child Benefit, will oversee this cut. It’s yet another broken promise made by the Labour party to the people at the last General Election.” “Sinn Féin wants to see children protected by the policies and day-to-day decisions of government. Unfortunately, the austerity agenda being followed by this coalition has consistently put children on the frontline of cuts.” ENDS For further information please contact Cllr. Mick Nugent on 0876755793

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SUSI failure forcing students to drop out of college – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien

SUSI failure forcing students to drop out of college – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien 5 November 2012 Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien has said the significant difficulties in the processing of third level grant applications by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) was fast reaching crisis point. The Cork North Central Deputy, who recently obtained statistics from the Department of Education and Skills (DES) which showed 52,430 student applications were still awaiting processing through the online SUSI system, has been contacted by a number of students who because they are still awaiting payment of their grant may be forced to drop out of college. “The SUSI online application system” he continued, “has been an unmitigated disaster with tens of thousands of students left in dire straits as they await payment of their third level grant. “In one of a number of cases I have dealt with, a first year student from Cork City, who is attending a nursing degree course in Dundalk Institute of Technology, has still not received her grant despite applying through SUSI in mid-June “The young woman in question comes from a one parent family and has four other siblings and despite the best efforts of her mother she is struggling to pay her rent and is behind on her bills. “This is someone who wants to train to be a nurse and make a positive contribution to society who is being forced to drop out of college because a grant to which she is fully entitled to has not been paid. Since commencing her studies in September, she has been placed under immense stress as a result of the worry that comes from having little or no money. “Sinn Féin welcomed the SUSI system whenever it was first launched in June, but we also made clear that it would have to be properly resourced in order to provide an adequate service. The backlog of thousands of unprocessed applications, the apparent lack of training for staff and the difficulties in getting answers when contacting SUSI are much more than initial teething problems. “It is now time Education Minister Ruairí Quinn intervened directly to ensure this integrated on-line system, which was supposed to make the process of applying for a grant a good deal easier, can make the outstanding payments immediately. “The failure of SUSI has already had serious consequences for students and their families unacceptable that its serious flaws are forcing people out of college at a time when higher education is so important for our long-term prosperity.”ENDS

Deputy O’Brien welcomes Department’s decision to reverse freeze on cuts to teachers’ allowances

Deputy O’Brien welcomes Department’s decision to reverse freeze on cuts to teachers’ allowances 5 November 2012 Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien, TD, has welcomed the decision by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) to reverse its decision to freeze qualification allowances for serving teachers who had commenced courses of further study from December 5th 2011. Describing the decision as a “small victory for common sense”, the Cork North Central Deputy said that teachers should have incentives to upskill. He continued: “If we are to achieve the highest standards in education, and match the success of progressive countries such as Finland and New Zealand, then we need to follow their example and ensure teachers are incentivised and rewarded for enhancing their skills at post-graduate level. “The decision by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) to reverse their freeze on allowances, whilst welcome, still only applies to qualifications that are additional to those required for teaching such as Master and Doctoral degrees and certain specialist teaching diplomas. “It is also clear that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has been forced to revise this short-sighted policy because of pressure from the teaching unions who have always maintained teachers have a legitimate expectation to receive allowances when they undertook their courses of study. “This announcement also highlights the unfairness of the cuts that have been imposed on newly qualified teachers whose pay and allowances have been hardest hit in recent times and Sinn Féin will continue to lobby the Minister to reverse this unjust policy change.”

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sinn Féin activists to support Home Helps national campaign launch in Cork today.

Sinn Féin activists from all over Cork will today join a rally and march in support of the Home Helps fight against cutbacks in the crucial services they provide to older people and those living with disabilities in communities throughout the state. The mobilisation, which starts at 2pm outside Connolly Hall, marks the launch of SIPTU’s ‘Time to Care’ national Home Helps campaign.

Sinn Féin’s TD for Cork North-Central Jonathan O’Brien said:
“Sinn Féin has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Home Helps of Ireland in thes face of cuts that have devastated Home Help hours and Home Care packages. These services are essential to the health, well-being and quality of life of those availing of them. Last month, the party brought a motion before the Dáil that called on the government to reverse these cuts and return funding to pre-Budget 2012 levels. However, the government ensured that the motion was defeated despite the overwhelming anger within communities to this attack on the most vulnerable people in our society.”

“This is not just a case of figures. These cuts of almost €10 million in funding and the slashing of 1,000,000 contact hours represents the flesh and blood cases of people. They have been assessed, time and time again, and they have always been found to be in need of care. Yet the HSE, on the demand of the government, has still pushed ahead with implementation of savage cuts.

“The minister says there are no other options. We have presented him with one.There are 226 members in the houses of the Oireachtas. We could reduce ministers’ pay to €100,000, Deputies’ pay to €75,000 and Senators’ pay to €60,000. That would leave each of us with a good income and would save €4.3 million – over 250,000 home help hours. It is a viable cost-saving that would take away some of the burden that Minister Reilly and his team prefers to place on frontline services and communities."

“I am also protesting today for personal reasons. My family and I have first-hand experience of the amazing service and care provided by Home Help workers. My Father’s right to stay in his home, over the course of his fight against Motor Neuron Disease , was upheld mainly due to the work and dedication of his home help. Many other patients and their families will be robbed of this right if we do not succeed in forcing the government to reverse these cuts.”

For further information please contact Deputy Jonathan O’Brien on 0860274142