The Week in Review
30 June – 07 July 2017
Irish Government cannot allow British counterparts off the hook for summer – Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has insisted that the Irish government must not leave the British government “off the hook for the Summer” when it comes to work required to reach an agreement in the North that would see the restoration of the political institutions.
Speaking from Leinster House on Thursday, where he was joined by party leader in the North Michelle O’Neill MLA and Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD, Teachta Adams said;
“We are disappointed with the outcome of the discussions. Sinn Féin wants a deal. We wont shy away from the work that needs to be done now that will help the likelihood of a agreement being reached in the Autumn.”
He continued, “Our objective is to restore the political institutions as quickly as possible. However, any agreement must deliver for all the citizens of the North. The institutions can only work if it is on the basis of respect, integrity and equality. The issues that need to be resolved are not Sinn Féin issues. They are right-based issues. They are issues for wider society.”
He stated that the approach of the DUP – supported by the British Government – represented a huge failure on behalf of Theresa May and her officials.
The Sinn Féin President said that “The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has made a generally positive contribution so far. It is crucial, however, that the Irish Government now engages immediately with their British counterparts to ensure that the pathway to reaching an agreement is developed. The idea that all of this can be parked until September is a non-runner. Both governments have a duty to take active responsibility to ensure that the work is done now to help facilitate an agreement. The Irish government cannot allow the Tory government off the hook for the summer.
Theresa May’s tolerance of denial of rights a ‘monumental failure’ – Michelle O’Neill MLA
Speaking earlier in the week, Sinn Féin’s group leader in the north Michelle O’Neill said the fact that a deal has not been done represented a ‘monumental failure’ on the part of Theresa May and the Tory government.
Michelle O’Neill said: “Sinn Féin are disappointed but not surprised that a deal has not been done. This constitutes a monumental failure by Theresa May and her government. Decades of work are being put on hold to keep her in power. This is a consequence of the British Prime Minister supporting the DUP and the DUP supporting her.”
She stated: “It should be very clear by now that a restored Assembly and Executive is only sustainable and tenable if it is based on fairness, respect and equality. The rights-based issues, whether they be Acht na Gaeilge, a Bill of Rights, marriage equality or the rights of families to coroners’ inquests are not solely Sinn Féin demands. These are basic rights which are protected in England, Scotland, Wales and the rest of Ireland. The denial of these rights would not be tolerated elsewhere on these islands and it should not be tolerated here. But the British Government are prepared to facilitate this because they are in hock to the DUP.”
‘Frictionless border not possible’ – John O’Dowd MLA
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has said those who are telling businesses and farmers that they can continue with frictionless trade post-Brexit are misleading them and are prepared to damage the economy and lives of people across the island of Ireland in pursuit of a ‘little Englander’ vision which has no basis in reality.
Speaking on Thursday, John O’Dowd said: “The European Union’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier made it clear today that there will be dire economic consequences of Brexit. He laid it out plainly that, despite the claims of some, frictionless trade after leaving the single market ‘is not possible.’ He went onto add that ‘100% of farm produce will be subject to border checks’. The DUP and others can no longer tell businesses and farmers everything will be ok and that they can carry on with trading across the island in the same way they can at present. It simply cannot happen. The price of Brexit is an end to free trade and tariffs especially on agricultural produce.”
Concluding, Mr O’Dowd added: “It is clear that the Tory/DUP Brexit little Englander vision of the world will have huge negative consequences for the island of Ireland and Britain. Securing designated special status for the north within the EU is a credible alternative to the Tory/DUP Brexit plans and would secure free trade for businesses including farming across the island.”
DUP and British Government have much to reflect upon – Declan Kearney MLA
Sinn Féin MLA and National Chairperson Declan Kearney has repeated that Sinn Féin wants the political institutions established urgently.
Writing in An Phoblacht he also said that the DUP can only go back into government when it accepts the primacy of a rights based, inclusive and anti-sectarian society in the North.
Mr Kearney said: “Since the Assembly election on 2nd March three rounds of talks have taken place to try and reestablish the political institutions. The second round was interrupted due to the British Prime Minister’s decision to call an unscheduled Westminister general election. Earlier this week the most recent phase of talks which started after that election also ended with no agreement.”
He stated that, “Sinn Féin shares the widespread public disappointment and frustration at this lack of progress. The fact is that the first 17 days immediately after the Westminister election were squandered by both the DUP and British Conservative party, in a parallel negotiation to get DUP support for a minority Tory government.”
Mr Kearney said that over the last two weeks the DUP had “absolutely no reason to address the failure to implement previous agreements.”
He continued, “The fact is the Irish language is about more than recognition of the Irish language. It has become totemic for the broader equality and rights agenda. Another serious question arises as to whether the northern state and unionism can accept parity of esteem for the Irish identity and equality for all citizens. Sinn Féin wants the institutions established urgently, but not at the expense of institutionalised bigotry. The DUP can only go back into government again when it accepts the primacy of a rights based, inclusive and anti-sectarian society in the North.”
Read Declan Kearney’s full blog.
Irish Government must stand up to Britain to protect fishermen – Senator Rose Conway-Walsh
Mayo Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has called on the Government to act immediately and decisively in protecting Irish fishermen from the implications of Britain’s decision to withdraw from the London Fisheries convention.
Senator Conway-Walsh said: “There needs to be tangible and decisive action taken by the Government to protect the rights of our fishermen. The Government have been playing catch up on so many issues in relation to Brexit. There is a real need now to act, even if that means openly challenging the British government. This decision comes as a result of internal Tory party politics with little or no regard for Ireland at all. The Government’s response must take account of this fact.”
The Senator reiterated Martin Ferris TD’s call for the Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to appear before the Agriculture Committee, saying: “He needs to appear with a clear set of actions to be taken by the Government and he must continue to engage with and inform those in the fishing sector in order to reassure and help them as they move into a period of uncertainty. It is simply not good enough for the Government to leave it to Michel Barnier to deal with this mess, they must take action.”
She concluded, “There are implications not just for fishermen but for the economic wellbeing of all coastal communities, particularly for counties such as Mayo. Our Government must be seen to stand up for Ireland’s interests or we risk being viewed as ‘a soft touch’ as the Brexit process continues. They should also call for an increased quota in any upcoming negotiations.”
Tory political donations moves don’t go far enough – Conor Murphy MLA
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said the proposals from James Brokenshire over transparency in political donations do not go far enough.
Conor Murphy said: “The announcement from James Brokenshire about moves to make donations to political parties in the north more transparent do not go far enough. The fact that it is only backdated until July 1 2017 means that it will not cover anything before that date, despite the fact he had the power to backdate it to July 2014. This is not good enough and allows the cover up of the ‘dark money’ given to the DUP to back Brexit to continue. It also raises questions about whether this was an electoral side deal which garnered the DUP’s support in propping up a Tory government. Sinn Féin wants to see greater transparency around political donations so the public can have confidence in the political process.”
Kathleen Funchion TD welcomes passing of Sinn Féin motion seeking to support early years childcare staff
Speaking on Wednesday in the wake of Sinn Féin’s PMB motion on the poor working conditions and pay for those in the Early Years childcare sector Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Childcare Kathleen Funchion TD has welcomed the unanimous passing of the Sinn Féin motion seeking to support early years childcare staff.
Teachta Funchion said: “I welcome the unanimous support for our motion tonight. This will pave the way for better working conditions and pay for staff that are facing uncertainty and providers that were at breaking point now entering the summer months. This summer approximately 3,500 early years educators will sign on the dole at an estimated cost of €7.5 million to the exchequer. This does not include the thousands of providers who are unable to sign on because they are classified as self-employed. Nor does it include the younger members of the profession who are not entitled to social welfare at all due to their parents’ income. These figures also don’t include those who are eligible for FIS because their income is so low.”
She stated that; “Early Years settings are often where learning difficulties or social issues can be detected, improving a child’s chances of getting help and assessing the level of assistance they might need early on in order to prevent future problems, developmental or otherwise. The type of start we give our children inevitably impacts their progress for life.There’s an intrinsic link between the working conditions of those responsible for children and the quality of care and outcomes. It is common sense that if a staff member is over-worked, underpaid and highly stressed, as a committed as that staff member may be, the outcomes for the children they care for will not be as positive as a person who feels valued, has relative job security and happy in their position.”
She concluded, “Unless the conditions and pay of those working are improved this crisis is only going to deepen. The State now needs to act on tonight’s unanimous agreement and increase funding to services, which is tied to quality and the implementation of decent paycales. We must address the issues now so that we can create a sustainable sector that is fair for workers and the children they care for. Improvements will only happen with significant investment for the sector in Budget 2018.”
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