Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Croke Park Agreement would choke a boa constrictor - Mythen

Cllr Johnny Mythen has lambasted the new Croke Park Agreement saying that the premise of the deal would choke a boa constrictor never mind a public sector worker who earns €35,000 per annum or less.  The Sinn Féin rep said that the government should have cut the 1008 unelected quangos instead of going after average paid public sector workers.

Cllr Mythen said;

"Swallow hard and vote for the new deal. We promise we won't be coming back for more. On examining the new Croke Park agreement Minister Howlin's words are very true. The government wouldn't have to come back for more because simply there would be nothing left to take.  Not forgetting  the new property tax and the new water tax that will be extracted voluntary or forcefully from wages also."

"This premise however when examined would choke a boa constrictor, never mind a public sector worker who earns €35,000 or less per annum.  Staff working 35 hrs. go to 37hrs.  Staff working over 35 hrs. go to 39hrs.  Workers working over 39hrs per week will provide one hours overtime ex Gratia.  Sunday O/T rates will drop to one and three quarters, while shift workers will see their one and a sixth rate disappear altogether.  This on top of a freeze on increments ranging from three months to three years.  Even to make things more unpalatable there are built in revisions of flexi- time, redeployment and re-structuring grades."

"How many times do we have to say it austerity isn't working.  People are already under financial strain.  Again the first casualty will be the average €35,000 workers, followed by the domestic economy.  I would like to ask the Government if they really want to cut the "fat", how about the quangos?  Mostly politically appointed , and over 1008 of them .e.g. the commissioner of aviation regulation is  paid 195K (including pension).  Now there's a thought."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Water Charges will force low income families into poverty - O' Súilleabháin

A local campaigner against the family taxes and spokesperson for Sinn Féin has renewed his call for the government to invest in water infrastructure instead of water charges.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin warned that the government’s proposed water charges bill will force low income families into poverty and will do little to increase water conservation.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"The current draconian proposals for water charges will do little to increase water conservation in this state.  Installing water meters will cost money.  The government initially estimated that it would cost €500 million but a more likely final cost is €1 billion.  This money could be used to deal with directly with water waste instead."

"Up to 58% of treated water is being lost through leaks in our antiquated water supply system.  A flat rate tax, or the introduction of water meters, will not fix these leaking pipes.  Sinn Féin is calling for sequence investment in water infrastructure beginning with counties that lead the unaccounted for water tables.  County Wexford is near the top of this list, losing about 38% every year due to leaking pipes.”

"The average Irish adult uses 150 litres of water per day (or 100 litres if you choose to accept the Fine Gael figures).  Why then are 450 litres of water being produced per person per day in this nation?  It's costing the state €700 million a year to produce clean drinking water and nearly two thirds of this is being wasted due to our inefficient water supply network."

"The government needs to stop trying to sell their new tax as a water conservation policy when clearly it is not.  Sinn Féin is calling for the axing of the proposed water tax and a €500 million investment over four years aimed at fixing and upgrading our water pipe lines, focusing on reservoir loss and the distribution network.”


New CFP deal will aid Kilmore Quay fishermen -Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has said that the under-siege fishing community in Kilmore Quay will benefit from a new clause pushed into the report on the Common Fisheries Policy by a Sinn Féin MEP last week.  Sinn Féins Martina Anderson successfully amended the CFP report to include the so called '1976 Hague Preferences' which will now seek to ensure special recognition for Irish fishing communities and their quotas.

Cllr Kelly said;

"The amendment of the CFP report to include the 1976 Hague Preferences will mean that Ireland will get a top-up on their quota in return for sharing the Irish fishing grounds with other member states if the CFP is amended to include the report's findings.  These fishing grounds are too big for our fleet to manage by themselves anyway, and if our fishing communities benefit financially from this top up, then it has to be welcomed as a progressive move."

"EU regulations governing Irish fishing have brought the industry to its knees.  It has been estimated that the commercial value of Irelands fisheries between 1975 and 2010 was €210 billion.  Over this period Irelands share of this was €17 billion while our net loss was €184 billion." 

"Ireland has roughly 20% of the EUs waters but one of the smallest fishing quotas.  Even in our own waters Irish fishermen have only a 7% quota.  Spain has a 34% quota and can regularly land abundant catches of monkfish and other varieties long after the quota has been reached for Irish fishing vessels.  The amendment introduced by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will finally deal with righting this gross imbalance."

"Also contained in the new report is the provision to end the policy of discarding.  The United Nations  Food and Agricultural Organisation estimates that 7.3 million tonnes of fish is annually discarded globally.  Shockingly this is 8% of the entire global catch."

"This deal is in no way finalised and the negotiations will be tough, but at last there is light at the end of the tunnel for Irish fishing communities.  It's now time for Minister Coveney and MEPs from this state to join the likes of Martina Anderson in fighting for the rights of small fishing communities like Kilmore Quay."

Eircom cannot be allowed to penalise rural customers - O'Connell

The Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin has called on Comreg to reject an Eircom proposal which he says would penalise customers living in rural areas. Oisín O'Connell described the plan to drop the price of telephone line rental for urban customers as being welcome if it is extended to include all customers, and not enacted in such a manner that it directly penalises rural communities that have poorer service already.

Mr O'Connell said;

"The Irish Government has a long-standing commitment to universality of line rental costs. Eircom's attempt to set up a two-tiered line rental charge system will breach this commitment, and see households in rural areas being penalised a second time. They get a lower quality overall service to begin with. It's unacceptable."

"While action by Eircom that results in customer bill reduction is generally welcome, it should not be at the expense of creating a second-class customer base. That Eircom has approached Comreg with this plan, seems an obvious prelude to enter a broader market in competition with companies like UPC. This suggests that they are already in a position where they can reduce the monthly bill for all customers. It is imprudent, and impudent to demand that 440,000 rural dwellers pay €48 more annually, to get a poorer broadband service - for example -than their fellow citizens in urban areas."

"Comreg should reject this plan. It is both socially and economically beneficial to have flat-rate line access to a national telecommunications network. And we should not pay more for an inferior service."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Grad teachers on dole while retired teachers are rehired

An Enniscorthy Councillor has slammed the Minister for Education for presiding over a system where retired teachers are rehired as substitutes at the expense of newly qualified graduates.  Cllr Johnny Mythen said this policy contradicts the government's promise to make youth unemployment a top priority.

Cllr Mythen said;

"The recent revelations by the Minister of Education Ruairi Quinn  demonstrates that the rehiring of retired teachers as substitutes contradicts the Governments proclamation of 'youth employment being made a top priority'."  

"At present 150 retired teachers are holding substitute posts while thousands of graduate teachers are on social welfare or heading for emigration.  These young teachers are an invaluable asset to the nation, as were the teachers gone before them."

"Surely an appeal must be made to the schools and the education department to make sure that they prioritise these substitute posts for our young graduates."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sinn Féin deny 'double standards' on Wexford Hospital

Cllr Anthony Kelly has refuted comments made by Labour Cllr George Lawlor accusing Sinn Féin of not standing behind Wexford General Hospital during an interview on the Morning Mix this week.  Cllr Kelly said that he and his party had always stood behind the hospital and would continue to campaign for a better health service for this county.

Cllr Kelly said;

"Cllr George Lawlor's attempts to vilify the position that Sinn Féin has taken on the Wexford Hospital fiasco is an attempt to deflect attention away from what Mayor Jim Allen recently admitted was an act of 'stroke politics.'  The people of this county know only too well that Sinn Féin has consistently campaigned for the protection of health services within this county and only recently highlighted the closure of operating theatre 2 at Wexford General.  If it had been left up to local Labour party reps, no one would ever have known that the government was planning to close that theatre."

"Wexford General Hospital deserved this funding on its own merit and was in dire need of it.  Wexford hospital, and every hospital, should not need a Minister to ensure that necessary upgrades are achieved.  Sinn Féin immediately welcomed the announcement that a new A&E would be built in Wexford.  We campaigned since 2004 for it and nothing has changed in our desire to see a better health service for this county."

"It must be pointed out however that it is not the gift of any Minister to grant political favours to fellow Ministers.  Let's not forget that County Wexford became known as the forgotten county during the reign of the last Fianna Fail government because of such political favours and similar acts of 'stroke politics.'  Let's not forget that a previous government minister of that coalition was only too willing to use his influence to reroute resources away from Wexford and into Waterford, resulting in devastation for our county."

"Cllr Lawlor and the local branch of Labour rightly condemned these actions at the time.  Is it now a case that such actions are acceptable so long as we are the ones benefitting from them?"

"Cllr Lawlor said that my party implied funding necessary upgrades at Wexford General Hospital was 'damning to the extreme'.  That is completely untrue.  I would challenge anyone to deny my personal commitment and integrity towards my local hospital.  I will never hang my head in shame over my performance for Wexford General, as Cllr Lawlor stated I should.  Sinn Féin activists protested in rain, hail and freezing temperatures recently to ensure the reopening of operating theatre 2.  We will hold our heads up high."

"Sinn Féin will continue to stand behind Wexford General Hospital and we will continue to highlight, and campaign against, the decimation of health services across this county, caused by budget constraints and austerity measures that are implemented by Fine Gael and the Labour Party."

48% of farmers having no heir is threat to agri sector - O' Súilleabháin

A recent study by Macra na Feirme has revealed that 48% of Irish farms do not have an identified successor.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin, a spokesperson for local Sinn Féin, has said that the findings are startling and define a clear threat to our nations agri sector.  Mr O' Súilleabháin accused the government of not giving the sector the support it needs in order to meet the targets laid out in the Food Harvest 2020 document.

"These new figures show that Irish farming is in the midst of a social and economical crisis," Mr O' Súilleabháin said.  "Only half of Irish farms have an heir apparent.  Only 6.2% of Irish farmers are under 35.  Contrast that with the fact that 26.3% are over 65 and you realise that our whole farming sector is under threat."

"Successive Irish governments have neglected the agriculture sector and rural communities.  The last Fianna Fail administration allowed agricultural output to collapse.  In 2009 our output in that sector was less than it had been two decades earlier which resulted in farm income falling by 30%. Nationally the number of farms has fallen from 228,000 in 1975 to 128,000 in 2006.  It is projected that this decline will continue, reaching 105,000 in 2015, as more small farmers are forced off the land."

"Agriculture has the potential  to benefit our whole economy and to create jobs across the island.  The IFA estimates that farmers and farm families spend €8 billion per year in our economy.  It’s thought that 300,000 jobs are supported by the agriculture, food and related industries.  For every €100 of agriculture output there is a further €73 of output to the wider economy.  71% of raw materials used by our agri and fishing industries are sourced in the domestic market."

"The government must work to get more young people farming.  Failure to do so would result in a grave threat to the targets laid out in the Food Harvest 2020 plan.  Threats to existing incentives such as the single farm payment must end now and these payments must be ring-fenced.  The land leasing tax exemption scheme should be promoted better.  This allows the transfer of land to more productive farmers.  It is ideal for part time farmers who hold down another job and for the elderly."

Slush funds haven't gone away you know

"Wexford Labour Cllr George Lawlor's recent remarks about Sinn Feins objection to the funding of the development of Wexford General Hospital is confusing to say the least.  Is Cllr. Lawlor insinuating that funds taken from the tax payer be used as a private slush fund to protect the private interests of ministers in securing their own voter base thus resulting in the demise of many other constituencies just because they have not got a serving minister?"

"Sinn Fein's statement is simple; you cannot continue to build a republic on the grounds of inequality, unfairness or prejudice.  County Wexford Sinn Féin can proudly stand over their unblemished record of campaigning for Wexford General Hospital and will continue to do so now and in the future."

"Sinn Fein believes that each major project should be taken on an equal and fair basis, without prejudice .  Under this criteria Wexford General Hospital would qualify in its own right.  So Cllr Lawlor can rest assured that Sinn Fein will continue to insist on transparency and accountability, as was faithfully promised by the current Government."

- Cllr. Johnny Mythen responding to remarks made by a local Labour party rep who falsely claimed that Sinn Féin were against the construction of a new extension at Wexford General Hospital.

O' Connell welcomes One Million Trees Scheme

The Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin has warmly welcomed the news that tree planting will take place in early March for the largest Irish community tree planting project in history.  Oisin O' Connell cited the project as proof of the tremendous success of cross border initiatives and proof that a no border Ireland would function efficiently and pragmatically.

One Million Trees in a day is a non profit, all Ireland community and environmental initiative which seeks to plant one million young native trees at sites across the island of Ireland during a twenty four hour period on the 22nd and 23rd of March.

"The One Million Trees project is a great idea that gives communities across this island the pitch to aid their environment by planting natives trees on a given day in March," Mr O' Connell said.  " Over 1500 landowners have agreed to accommodate trees and it's clear that the target of 1,000 acres of land needed is now very achievable.  Trees are being placed on land owned by the state, private landowners, schools, colleges, farmers, councils and community groups across the 32 counties of Ireland."

"The scheme, which is still accepting applications, is offering up to two hundred free native trees for landowners who are willing to accommodate them.   Farmers is particular are reacting to this generous offer, growing saplings on hedges, ditches and unused land.  This is allowing the initiative to reach its true goal which is to provide a valuable sustainable ecosystem for future generations of Irish people to enjoy."

"Recently I spoke at the United Ireland Conference in Dublin on the possibility of a border poll in the near future and reunification.  There are people across this island who long to see national unity.  There are also people who don't believe it is possible.  The truth is the border has already ceased to exist in many areas and groups as diverse as One Million Trees, the GAA, Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann and the Irish Rugby team are operating on an All Ireland basis.  These groups are proving everyday that a united Ireland would in fact function efficiently and pragmatically."

Kelly responds to Labour attack

While I welcome the funding for the necessary new A&E unit at Wexford Hospital which I have campaigned for over the years, I accuse, Labour Cllr George Lawlor for clearly engaging in what can only be described as “political theatrics” over the past week when he used Wexford Hospital as a political football to attack Sinn Fein.

Cllr Lawlor should have directed his hysteria at RTE who were the first source that revealed that there was political interference by Ministers Reilly/Howlin/Hogan in fast-tracking HSE building projects for their own political gain. One of his party members ex Junior Health Minister Roisin Shorthall was also to the fore-front in her criticisms of the three Ministers.

As an opposition party Sinn Fein were doing their job in calling on the relevant Ministers for clarification and transparency on the issue something that the Labour Party engaged in regularly while in opposition.

The Labour/Fine Government are prepared to implement future severe health cuts on an already struggling service which will result in hospitals having  to cut back on frontline services which in turn will impact on patient care, will we then hear Cllr Lawler’s hysterical voice condemning these cut’s Highly Unlikely.

- Cllr Anthony Kelly

Cutting of ENPs will push more families into poverty - Kelly

The government's decision to cut the Exceptional Needs Payment Scheme by €5.5 million this year has been criticised by a Wexford Borough Councillor.  Cllr Anthony Kelly said the move which will include the ceasing of grants for communion and confirmation ceremonies is mistimed and will push more struggling families into down and out poverty.

Cllr Kelly said;

"Minister Burtons decision to go ahead with further cuts to the Exceptional Needs Payment Scheme this year is very disappointing and will impact harshly on families across Wexford.  The purpose of this scheme is to help applicants meet an essential once off payment which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.  This benefit has been a safety net and provided many struggling families with a lifeline since the start of the recession.  The decision to further reduce it is mistimed."

"€5.5 million is to be cut from the Exceptional Needs Payment Scheme this year.  This will result in the ceasing of grant payments for communion, confirmation and other religious ceremonies.  Under pressure parents with children due to make their first communion or confirmation in the coming months will now be denied essential help."

"Minister Burton has instructed Community Welfare Officers to ensure that the supplementary welfare allowance scheme is responding to financial need and not occasions.  It seems that the Labour Minister has forgotten that despite the huge economic hardships faced by families in this recession, life goes on, and if the government are not prepared to help people then they will look elsewhere.  She also seems to be unaware that many people on who find themselves on social welfare now have never had to claim benefits before and are on the live register through no fault of their own.  This decision will drive more families into the arms of moneylenders."

"The government should reverse cuts to this essential scheme immediately.  In a week when new euro statistics reveal that the Irish people have paid a staggering 42% of the total cost of the European banking crisis, it seems obvious that our government should be concentrating on protecting the welfare of struggling Irish citizens instead of bailing out the elite."

Now is the time for a border poll - O' Connell

The time has come for the Irish people to be given a chance to vote on the future our partitioned island and the possibility of reunification as promised in the Good Friday Agreement according to a local Sinn Féin spokesperson.  Oisin O' Connell, who spoke alongside other party luminaries such as Martin McGuinness and Mary Lou McDonald at the recent Border Poll Conference in Dublin, said that Sinn Féin would be pushing for a referendum on the issue within the term of the next Oireachtas.
Cllr Johnny Mythen, Martin McGuinness and Oisin O' Connell at recent border poll conference

Mr O' Connell said;

"Fifteen years have passed since the Good Friday Agreement.  There were people then who said that it would never work.  They said that the peace wouldn't last and that an assembly between nationalists and unionists was impossible.  But they were wrong.  There were people who said before that agreement was made that negotiations were a waste of time and nothing would come of it.  But they were wrong."

"There are people who will say that Sinn Fein's call for a border poll is mistimed.  They will say that Ireland can't afford unification.  They will say that republicans are just stirring things up again.  But they are wrong."

"Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, a border poll and a vote about the future of partition and the possibility of reunification are guaranteed.  The time has now come for the Irish and British governments to set a date for this poll.  The people of Scotland will vote on their destiny next year.  The people of Ireland should be given the same opportunity in the next few years."

"Ireland can afford to be united.  In fact, what we can't afford is to be divided.  Two states, two governments, two economies, two civil services on an island of this size with a population of just over six million makes no sense.  Much of the problems we face, mass unemployment, emigration, economic stagnation; could be better solved in an all Ireland economy."

 "Many people will have different views on this issue.  There will be people who will have concerns and there will be people who will desire to see this island united.  It's time the issue was put out there for people to think about.  Its time for a mature and informed debate on where we see Ireland going and the vision we want to hand over to our children.  Its time people were given their legal right to vote on the future of our island.  As we approach the one hundredth anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence it's time we look towards the possibilities of a new, true republic."

New driver licence monopoly will cost jobs - O' Súilleabháin

A spokesperson for North Wexford Sinn Féin has said that there are serious questions that need to be answered regarding the roll out of a new type of licence for Irish drivers.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that the decision to hand the exclusive rights to the development of these new license to a private firm operating under the RSA is wrong, flies in the face of regulations on competitiveness and could lead to job losses.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"No one would argue against the introduction of new licenses that will increase efficiency and professionalise out licensing system but questions must be answered regarding the government's decision to effectively allow a private company to establish a monopoly on the development of these new passport like licenses.  The roll out of the new licenses began last weekend.  A Dublin based company called Credit Card Systems has to date been given the entire contract for these new licenses."

"The roll out of new drivers licenses for full and learner drivers comes under a new European initiative to build a mutually recognisable form of licence across all 27 EU member states.  It means that when you renew your license you will receive a new passport like edition, at twice the cost of the old licenses.  You will no longer be able to have your passport pictures for the license taken locally.  Instead this will be done through an agent operating under the RSA."

"Initially it was believed that the RSA would use the motor tax offices of local councils to take these new photographs.  Instead Credit Card Systems, a private company, has been given the monopoly.  No questions have been answered as to why a private company was given this job or to what criteria the tendering process was examined, if there was any tendering at all."

"The Irish Pharmacy Union has recently attacked the way these new licenses are being  rolled out correctly stating that this will mean job losses in their industry.  Around 4000 people are currently employed in the provision of passport pictures within the pharmacy and photography sector."

"This issue has been swept under the carpet and the very relevant issues raised have not been answered.  I would call upon local representatives of Fine Gael and Labour to explain to the people of Gorey why they are now paying double for a license so a private company in Dublin can process their application photos.  I would call upon the local Fine Gael and Labour organisation to explain why a private company has been given this monopoly at the cost of local jobs."