Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Ross man on Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

A New Ross man is among the passengers of MV Saoirse, the Irish ship in the Freedom Flotilla which is en route to Gaza in a bid to smash the Israeli blockade. Mr Barron, a lifelong human rights campaigner, anti racism advocate and Sinn Féin member, will be part of the first international attempt to breech the choking blockade of Palestine since last year’s Freedom Flotilla was attacked by Israeli defence forces.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Barron, Seamie Davitt, a long time friend and colleague, said that Ger was never afraid to stand up for what is right and that once he had earned a place on the MV Saoirse, nothing could prevent him from going.

“Ger joined the flotilla because he knows what is going on in Palestine is wrong,” Mr Davitt said. “Israel’s inhuman blockade of Gaza has now entered its fifth year. Over one and half million Palestinians have been illegally ‘locked in’ by the Israeli siege which prevents basic commodities like medicine and food as well as raw materials necessary for civilian industry and manufacturing entering the strip. Last year a peaceful unarmed flotilla of international vessels attempted to break the blockade and bring vital provisions to the people of Gaza. It was attacked by Israeli Commandos who killed nine passengers and injured many more. Despite being condemned by people around the world, nothing has changed. The Israeli blockade remains in place and the people of Gaza remain prisoners in their desolate homeland. Ger and his colleague aim to end that.”

“Eighty percent of the people of Gaza rely on international aid to survive. This is because they are denied the raw materials necessary to build their economy. The UN, who have condemned the blockade, said last week that conditions are worst now than at any time during the five years. The International Committee of the Red Cross says that the Israeli blockade constitutes collective punishment of a minority. It’s time for people to stand up like Ger and support an end to the Siege of Gaza.”

Houses, houses everywhere, but none to live in

Cllr Anthony Kelly has said he has serious concerns over new housing regulations introduced by Willie Penrose. The Wexford town Sinn Féin councillor said that he had received many phone calls from constituents who are worried about the future of the RAS scheme and the seemingly anti family nature of the new regulations.

“Issues regarding changes to the social housing criteria are the most common grievances coming into my office at the moment,” Cllr Kelly said. “People are frightened by the perceived anti family nature of the new regulations. Often you could find three generations of the same family living in a local authority house. Under the new guidelines the new generation might not be entitled to live there. Also there are serious concerns over the curtailing of the RAS scheme. Many families on the waiting list for social housing avail of this scheme. If they are removed from the scheme, where will they go? What we are talking about here is the possibility of government actions making families homeless.”

“The terrible irony of this is that there are three times as many houses as needed to house every family on the social housing waiting list lying idle around the nation. NAMA, which is funded by the Irish taxpayer, has seized houses around the country from indebted property developers. Rather than doing what was morally right and redistributing these properties as social housing, NAMA has instead began selling these properties to other developers who will in turn rent them to Irish citizens. It’s incredible. Irish people paid to set up NAMA, and are now paying again to rent state owned property from them. There are currently one hundred and thirty thousand families on the social housing waiting list. That means that up to three hundred thousand people are being faced with these concerns. We need a renewed focus on the public provision of social housing which has never been more cost effective and is sorely needed.”

Callous SNA cuts are avoidable - Mythen

An Enniscorthy Sinn Féin councillor has described attempts to cut special needs assistants as being callous and completely avoidable. Cllr Johnny Mythen was speaking after his motion calling on Enniscorthy town council to write a letter to the Education Minister demanding a reversal of SNA cuts was passed last week.

“It is not acceptable that children with special needs should go without appropriate support to see them through their education,” Cllr Mythen said. “What kind of country abandons these children and their chances to make a life for themselves? Certainly not one that I or anyone I know wants to live in. Cutting SNAs undoubtedly makes no social sense, but it also makes no economic sense. SNAs are poorly paid for the incredible service that they provide. They earn just a little more than the minimum wage – less than €12 an hour. Money can be saved elsewhere. Why not abolish the outlandish tax breaks for the wealthy instead of abolishing the future of the children who will be affected by these cuts?”

“This is about priorities and looking after the educational prospects of our most vulnerable children must be made a priority. The SNA cut is a nightmare for schools but an even bigger nightmare for families of children with special needs. Everyone knows that the country is in a precarious position but that does not give the government a license to impose unimaginable misery upon the most vulnerable children in our society. The proclamation of 1916 stated that we should ‘cherish all of the children of the nation equally’. I am asking the Minister for Education to remember those words and not to condemn the nation’s most vulnerable children to a lifetime of mediocrity.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“Amnesic” Labour Party u-turn on pension age is intolerable

Wexford Sinn Féin condemn proposals to raise the pension age to 68

Wexford Sinn Féin have reacted with outrage at the Labour party’s u-turn decision regarding raising the age of eligibility for the old age pension to sixty eight. Cllr Anthony Kelly has described the Labour party as an amnesic patient, seemingly unable to recall their pre general election promises to the electorate. One of those promises was not to cut the old age pension in anyway, but raising the age will result in cuts.

“The leadership of the Labour party seem to be suffering from amnesia,” Cllr Kelly said. “They really seem to have no memory of promising to maintain the old age pension at its current rates. The people of County Wexford took Labour at their word. Now our Fine Gael/Labour coalition government is proposing raising the pension age to sixty eight. This was the very thing that had local Labour reps like Brendan Howlin up in arms when Fianna Fail played with the idea last year. Raising the age of eligibility for the old age pension will amount to a 16% cut in pension entitlements. Minister Howlin promised the electorate of County Wexford that the Labour party in power would not cut the pension in anyway. Even Fianna Fail didn’t touch this lifeline for our elderly citizens.”

“This is yet another attack on the vulnerable in our society, the people who are seen as easy targets by our government. They will only be easy targets if the rest of us do nothing to help them. The Sinn Féin team in Leinster House will vote against the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill. I’m calling on the TDs who were elected by the people of County Wexford, including Minister Howlin, to do the same.”

Break the Tax Breaks instead of the Irish people – Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly calls for an end to unfair tax breaks for rich

Cllr Anthony Kelly has called for an end to unfair tax breaks for the well off following revelations that the government does not know how much tax revenue is lost to the state from 33 of the 115 tax breaks currently in operation. The Wexford Borough Councillor slammed the government for allowing these tax breaks to exist while targeting people on low incomes and benefits with extreme austerity.

“At a time when ordinary Irish families are suffering like never before, a system of elaborate tax breaks for the wealthy still operates,” Cllr Kelly said. “This is a throwback to the Fianna Fail gombeen years of corruption which this new government promised to end. They have clearly reneged on those promises by allowing these breaks to exist while breaking the ordinary Irish person with income cuts and new taxes.”

“It’s unjust and totally unacceptable. When pressed on the issue of tax breaks by Deputy Pearse Doherty, Minister Noonan admitted that one such break, the mid-Shannon tourism infrastructure scheme, cost the state €700,000 a year. Imagine how this money could be invested into the economy. The truth is that the funding for a proper jobs stimulus is available to our government. Unfortunately they have no intention of collecting it by ending these tax breaks.”

“The people of County Wexford need to contact their local government deputies and ask them, why are one elite group of Irish people being allowed to avoid austerity measures while the rest of us are crucified?"

United Ireland Conference in Dublin this Month

An Enniscorthy Sinn Féin Councillor has urged Enniscorthy people who believe in the possibility of a United Ireland in the future to attend a conference in Dublin this month. Cllr Johnny Mythen said that the conference will discuss the benefits of a United Ireland, and how it can be peacefully and democratically achieved in the years ahead.

“We in Sinn Féin believe that a United Ireland is not only desirable, but rather paramount to the future of this island,” Cllr Mythen said. “The recession has shown clearly the economic disaster of partition on both sides of the invisible border. Sinn Féin is not alone in believing that uniting Ireland is required. The vast majority of citizens on this island, republicans and nationalist, support the goal of a united Ireland, but turning that aspiration into reality requires more than fine words. I would like to invite the people of my constituency to attend the United Ireland conference in Dublin later this month, where like minded people will discuss ways of reunifying our Island through the framework of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Cllr Mythen revealed that among those speaking at the conference will be Brian Keenan, former Beirut hostage; Davy Adams, former UDP representative and Irish Times columnist; Dr John Bradley, formerly a research professor at the ESRI and Dr Pádraic White, former IDA managing director. Other participants include Michael Darcy, economist, GAA broadcasting legend Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Dr Ruan O’Donnell, historian, Ann Piggott, president Cork Council of Trades Unions and Fionnuala MacCurtain, the granddaughter of Tomás MacCurtain.

The United Ireland Conference takes place on Saturday 18 June in the Pillar Room at the Rotunda in Parnell Square, Dublin. A second conference will be held in Cork City Council Concert Hall on Saturday 25 June. For further details go to

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Stealth Taxes are smack in the face – Kelly

Wexford Sinn Féin oppose proposed water charges and household tax.

Cllr Anthony Kelly has condemned government plans to proposals to implement two new stealth taxes in the form of water and property charges. The Wexford Borough Councillor has said that these new charges will drive ordinary Wexford families further into government enforced poverty. He also question why the Labour party were now prepared to support and implement extreme austerity measures while only a few months ago they were condemning the Fianna Fail/ Green coalition for doing the same thing.

“So much for election promises,” Cllr Kelly said, “Fine Gael and Labour promised change, yet the ordinary people of this county, the working poor, the unemployed and the sick are facing the same type of austerity measures that became the hallmark of the Fianna Fail led government. These same people have had to cope with huge cuts to public services, rising costs and the coalition’s failure to create a single job since entering government. They are also the very same people who are footing the bill for this Government’s decision to pump yet more billions into the failed banking system. They are now being asked to take greater pain in the form of these two new stealth taxes. This can only be described as a smack in the face for people who are already struggling.”

“Sinn Féin is fundamentally opposed to the imposition of these charges. We have constantly shown how money could and should be raised through reform of the taxation system, elimination of waste in the public sector and through investing in jobs. We have told the last two governments that acceptance of an austerity doctrine, instead of facing up to the situation we are in with a progressive reform and stimulus plan, can only lead to further contraction of the economy. The recent rise in unemployment figures proves that government cuts are stalling any hope of recovery. The only thing the government will achieve by introducing these new taxes is the further impoverishment of the Irish people.”

Enniscorthy Sinn Féin welcome hospital announcement

Enniscorthy Sinn Féin have welcomed the announcement that missing funding for the vital extension work to Wexford General Hospital has been found. Enniscorthy Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen said that he commended the decision to go ahead with this essential project and that he felt his party’s campaign to highlight the missing hospital funding had played a significant role in the government’s announcement.

“The Sinn Féin organisation in County Wexford is delighted and surprised,” Cllr Mythen said. “We view this as a victory for the people of County Wexford who supported our ongoing campaigns to safe guard our hospital. The decision to proceed with the project gives a great boost to staff and patients at Wexford General. We say well done to Minister Howlin and well done to all the hard working Sinn Féin supporters for their time, effort and commitment during our recent campaign to highlight the missing funding. I’m sure that everyone’s hearts are lifted by this great news.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

South East SF Senator calls for speedy resolution to Aer Lingus dispute

The Sinn Féin Senator in the South East has called for a speedy resolution to the Aer Lingus dispute. Speaking yesterday, Waterford Senator David Cullinane said;

“I regret that talks between Aer Lingus management and the Irish Airline Pilots Association have broken down without agreement. While I welcome the news that some progress had been made during recent talks I am concerned that the roster arrangement issues have not been significantly addressed by the company.

“It is unacceptable that Aer Lingus management is trying to force pilots to work longer stretches to compensate for a shortage of pilots at the company. The management’s assertions that this is about pilot productivity do not stack up. Under the current roster arrangements pilots only get one day off after working for six days straight. This issue is as much about passenger safety as it is about terms for the airlines pilots. I welcome statements from both parties that they stand ready for further talks. I hope that such talks can resume as quickly as possible so as to address the valid concerns of the pilots and avoid unnecessary inconvenience for passengers.”

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wexford Sinn Féin welcome hospital announcement

Wexford Sinn Féin has welcomed the announcement that the vital extension project at Wexford General Hospital will now go ahead this year after missing funding was apparently located.

Shortly after entering government, the coalition announced that a much needed upgrade was to finally go ahead at WGH, featuring a new A&E and obstetrics unit. This project was to cost €21 million and according to a high level Wexford Labour Minister at the time, the funding was secure. Two days later it was revealed that this funding was missing.

Wexford Sinn Féin immediately began a campaign to get to the bottom of what happened to this missing funding. It seemed that other groups such as Wexford Labour and the Wexford Hospital Alliance group were also planning investigations. This never materialised and their silence was deafening.

When SF Cllr Anthony Kelly placed a motion before Wexford Borough Council calling for an investigation into what had happened to the missing funds, it was voted down by Fine Gael and Labour Councillors. Minister Howlin appeared on local radio and stated that it was his view that the money had never existed. One local Labour Cllr blamed Fianna Fail. Another blamed the HSE. We were half expecting them to blame the IRA.

When Wexford Sinn Féin protested outside Wexford General demanding answers over the missing €21 million, other groups stayed away. Some of them implied that we were being silly and that it was clear that funding for the hospital did not exist. Our prominent Labour Minister stated that Wexford SF were only good for giving out and that it was obvious that the €21 million had never been there. When we asked why he hadnt checked its availability before giddily announcing the project on local radio like an excited school girl, he was once again silent.

Yesterday our prominent Labour Minister announced that funding was available for the hospital project. Wexford Sinn Féin fully welcomes the announcement and takes pride that our councillors and members played a significant role in 'locating' the missing hospital funds.

North Wexford Remembers Michael Gaughan

County Wexford republicans gathered in North Wexford last Thursday night to remember hunger striker Michael Gaughan. A good crowd assembled at the 1798 monument in Gorey to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by the Mayo man 37 years ago.

The Chairman of the Ed O' Brien Gorey Cumann, Liam Morris, called for a minutes silence for genuine reflection on the life and death of Michael Gaughan, before the wll loved balled "Take me home to Mayo" was played.

The next hunger strike commemoration will be in memory of Joe McDonnell, and will be held in Enniscorthy on the 8th of July. Further details will follow.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Uniting Ireland - It makes sense

Sinn Féin will be holding two conferences in June on the theme of "Uniting Ireland".

The conferences are titled: Towards a New Republic – I dtreo an Poblacht Nua.

They first will be held in Dublin on Saturday June 18th in the Rotunda Pillar Room Complex, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 beginning at 10am.

The second conference will be on Saturday June 25th in Cork City Council Concert Hall beginning at 7.30pm.

Details are available at