Wednesday, December 7, 2011

year of missed opportunities, failed “slash and burn” policies and spineless politics

Sinn Féin in North Wexford has slammed government parties for what it calls a "year of missed opportunities, failed “slash and burn” policies and spineless politics."

"Fine Gael and Labour lied their way into government with promises of a totally new direction. They have broken nearly all of these promises in education and many other areas," according to North Wexford Sinn Féin Spokesperson, Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin.

"Schools in the Gorey area have already lost teachers. Increasing the pupil-teacher ratio will mean further job losses in a number of local schools (unions fear as many as 2,000 teaching jobs across the state) and even worse over-crowding in classrooms, which are already the second largest in Europe. Parents groups throughout Co. Wexford who have been lobbying politicians during the teacher unions Education Week are to be commended. These efforts need to intensify.

The waste of public money has been incredible - 700 million euro handed over to unguaranteed bondholders and speculators in Anglo Irish Bank last month and plans to give away a further 1.2 billion of public money to a failed bank next month. You just couldn't make it up! At the same time Labours Minister Howlin makes a half-hearted effort to tackle the pension’s scandal, which will take just €1 a day off Ray Burke and leave Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen to live off €147,000 a year, which is nothing more than a pathetic tokenistic gesture.

Meanwhile Fine Gael Senator Michael D’Arcy criticises the Croke Park Agreement last week claiming that those of us who work in the public service are “protected in a cocoon"; that there was a "national emergency" and "we have to be brave and we have to do what is right". Indeed we do! As Sinn Fein proposed in their 40-page fully costed alternative budget proposals: start by cutting politicians salaries; introduce a 48% third rate of tax on salaries in excess of 100 thousand euro; cap the wages at the top of the public service at this amount; end wasteful spending; introduce a wealth tax on assets worth more than 1 million. Stop handing over billions of public money to private speculators and unguaranteed bondholders. Take this approach and then there would be no need for cuts to education or any other public services. In fact we could then invest in education, which is fundamental to our future economic prosperity. A point that has been emphasised again and again by parents, teachers, economists and business leaders. It is obvious to ordinary people what group in Irish society live in a cocoon!

However, this government’s policy is to continue protecting the high rollers while at the same time lining up cuts to child benefit, increases in student registration fees and the failed policies of austerity which are depressing the local economy resulting in forced emigration. Two local examples starkly and shockingly illustrate their failure - 12 players off the Camolin football panel are now in Australia and almost half the Bunclody team that won the county championship just two years ago have also emigrated. According to the ESRI, emigration will increase in 2012.

So contrary to the hand-wringing from Fine Gael and Labour, little has in fact changed. It has been a year of missed opportunities, failed “slash and burn” policies and spineless politics. "

Budget of Broken Promises will make the innocent pay again – Kelly

Wexford Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Kelly has accused the government of targeting the vulnerable and low and middle income families with the same failed austerity budgetary measures as pursued by Fianna Fáil. Cllr Kelly said that Enda Kenny’s State of the Nation address had simply rubbed salt into the wounds by admitting that the people of Ireland were not responsible for the economic crisis on one hand, while supporting a budget which unfairly penalises them on the other.

“Once again the innocent are being made pay for the mistakes of government and the elite,” Cllr Kelly said. “The decision to cut fuel allowance by €120 will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable and it is a decision that will literally cost lives. Cuts to disability rates for younger people and raised student fees show that this government is intent on bleeding our youth out of the country. Today many young people were given a choice; emigration or poverty.”

“By cutting child benefit for 3rd and 4th children, Back-to-School Allowance, payments for lone parents on CE and some job seekers’ payments the Minister is sucking €475 million out of local economies. This will obviously result in further economic collapse and more job losses. The end result is less people paying tax and more people on the live register.”

“The savage cut of €543 million from the health services will finish off many hospitals around the country and further escalate the dangerous ‘trolley crisis’. There are over 2,000 public hospital beds currently closed due to cutbacks. 3,100 nursing and midwifery posts have already been lost due to the recruitment embargo. Thousands more front-line posts will be lost over the next three years. It is scandalous that €50 million is to be cut from disability, mental health and children’s services. Services from hospitals to home helps, from primary care to mental health, from nursing home care to child services will be reduced.”

“Sinn Féin has continuingly argued that those who can afford to pay more should do so. This year alone the gap between the wealthiest 20% of the population and the poorest 20% has increased by 25%! It’s a staggering statistic that has clearly gone over the head of Fine Gael and the Labour party. Despite admitting that the Irish people are not responsible for the mistakes of the Irish elite, these parties have chosen to implement Fianna Fail like austerity measures rather than impose new taxes on the wealthy. This carnival will go down in history as the budget of broken promises.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Government TDs living in a bubble that we need to burst – Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has described the Fine Gael and Labour TDs who support the upcoming austerity budget as being deluded, and has said that they are living in their own little bubble which the Irish people need to burst. Cllr Kelly made the remarks during a peaceful picket of Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey’s office in Wexford town last Saturday.

“It seems to me that any TD who supports this budget of cuts is completely deluded,” Cllr Kelly said. “We have had Fine Gael and Labour party TDs actually defend their broken election promises and failed job creation programme. These TDs have had the audacity to claim that things are getting better. It is truly terrifying that they are so out of touch with the ordinary Irish person, who is enduring the worst recession that this state has ever known. One Fine Gael TD even stated that nobody will be any worse off after this budget. Try telling that to people who have been cut beyond hope.”

“Deputy Liam Twomey recently gave the government’s budget plan the thumbs up and declared that we are well on our way to regaining our economic sovereignty. Does Deputy Twomey know something the rest of us don’t? Or is he so protected in his flush job in Leinster House that he is completely unaware of the suffering of families in his constituency while his government pay out bondholders at the behest of those in the higher echelons of the European Union who they seek to regain our sovereignty from? The truth is that any TD who supports a budget which will lead to more hardship for under pressure citizens, more economic collapse and more job losses is not only failing the constituents who voted him in, but is also revealing himself to be an absolute economic illiterate.”

“Sinn Féin has laid out a comprehensive, costed alternative to the government’s budget which would protect low paid workers, the unemployed and the most vulnerable in our society, and would make those who can afford to, pay more. Our pre budget plan explains why austerity has failed and will continue to fail, and sets out job creation as the only road to recovery. I wish Deputy Twomey and his fellow TDs had bothered to take the time to read the document instead of dismissing it. Instead he is happy to support a budget plan that is very similar to the one delivered by Fianna Fail last year. The one which Deputy Twomey and his party criticised and campaigned against.”

“Sinn Féin will continue to protest against this government’s failed economic policy in County Wexford. I fear that our government TDs are living in their own little bubble, entirely unaware of the destruction that their actions are causing to families across this nation. It’s time the people of Ireland popped their bubble and reminded them who the boss is.”

41 patients on trolleys as Wexford hospital crisis continues.

Cllr Anthony Kelly has demanded that decisive action be taken to end the bed shortage crisis at Wexford General Hospital after it emerged that forty one patients had spent a night on trolleys there last week. Cllr Kelly has submitted a motion inviting hospital manager Lily Byrne to the December meeting of Wexford Borough Council to see if a plan can be devised to end the trolley crisis.

“Forty one patients lay on trolleys in Wexford General Hospital last Monday night (28th),” Cllr Kelly said. “It's unacceptable that this level of degradation of patients and hospital staff is being tolerated by our local politicians. As a public body that represents the people of Wexford, the Borough Council agreed that it was necessary to invite Lily Byrne to our next meeting where we can relay the concerns of our constituents about the ongoing crisis and formulate a plan to solve this issue. This crisis is devastating the quality of service at Wexford General and is impacting on the community’s faith in its local hospital. It must be dealt with immediately.”

“I would be very concerned that certain politicians who used the hospital as an issue to get elected on have now abandoned it to an uncertain future. Or maybe they have even forgotten about it. Talk of wonderful new medical buildings for the future will give little comfort to the sick and elderly laying on trolleys in the corridors of Wexford General tonight.”

“Sinn Féin has long campaigned for better conditions for patients and the hard working staff of our county hospital. We will work actively with the management of Wexford General and any other genuine parties to bring an end to this trolley nightmare. I’m asking the people of the county to be vigilant of what is happening at their local hospital and to put pressure on their local TDs to take action. This is a time of hardship for every family in the county but we must show that famous fighting Wexford spirit and ensure that services are maintained to a high standard at our county hospital.”

Sinn Féin highlight unfair budget cuts at Brendan Howlin’s constituency clinic.

Wexford Sinn Féin held a public engagement outside the office of Brendan Howlin TD during his clinic last Saturday morning (26th) to highlight the unfair budget cuts planned by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government. A similar event was held outside Fine Gael TD Paul Kehoe’s office in Enniscorthy.

Speaking at the event, Cllr Anthony Kelly said;

“The government is continuing to perpetuate the myth that they have no choices in this budget. The truth is that they do have choices. Sinn Féin’s pre-budget submission has shown that choices can be made that do not punish those already on social welfare, the working poor and low income families."

“Fine Gael and Labour are following in the footsteps of their predecessors Fianna Fail, who also tried, and failed, to reduce our deficit through and slash and burn policy. They are doing this despite being elected on a mandate to do the exact opposite. This budget they are planning to deliver will not only create more hardships for families across this state, but will also fail to lead us to economic recovery.”

“You cannot cut your way out if a recession. That is an evident truth. Sinn Féin believes that the only way out of this mess is through creating jobs, putting people back to work and rebuilding our shattered tax intake. Our colleagues in the Labour party used to believe this as well but alas, their time in government as caused them to forget everything that went before the last general election.”

“Our government is busy telling the people that these coming cuts are unfortunate but necessary. They are either lying or economically illiterate. There are real alternatives. For example, a 48% third rate of tax on incomes in excess of €100,000 would raise €410 million and a wealth tax of 1% on assets worth more than €1 million, excluding working farmland and business assets, would raise €800 million. If we stopped corporations trading their profits and losses to avoid paying the correct tax, the state would raise an extra €108 million annually. It’s a question of political choice."

“Sinn Féin in County Wexford will be holding constant public engagements in the weeks ahead to remind our government TDs of the promises they are breaking and the constituents they are betraying with these austere measures. I hope the people of the county will come out too and put extreme pressure on our elected reps to do the right thing.”