Monday, February 27, 2012

Howlin's sell off is sell out - Kelly

Wexford Sinn Féin has criticised Minister Brendan Howlin's decision to sell off vital state assets. Cllr Anthony Kelly said the sell off was economic madness and a disastrous deal for the people of this country. Going a step further, the Wexford Borough Councillor described the sale of state assets as a total sell out by Minister Howlin and his Labour party colleagues.

“This sell off is a sell out,” Cllr Kelly said, “Dissecting successful state companies and selling parts of them is economic madness and the exact opposite of what Minister Brendan Howlin and his Labour party pledged to do in government before last year’s election. Companies like Bord Gais and the ESB are pillars of our economy and have provided jobs and security for thousands of Irish families for decades. The states remaining 25% stake in Aer Lingus is being auctioned off at a fraction of its worth. Worst still Coillte is to have its harvesting rights sold off to a private company which will take our trees and leave behind barren earth.”
“Minister Howlin would have you believe that the government has no choice and that the Troika is calling the shots on this. This is not true. Privatisation of state assets is not required under the EU/IMF deal. The discussion of the sale of state assets in the Memorandum takes place in the section regarding obstacles to competitiveness, not in the fiscal section as the Government would like us to believe. To blame the Troika for this is deliberately misleading.”

“Another claim is that the government will use money from the sale of state assets to fund a job creation programme. If this Government was serious about job creation and reinvestment in the economy it would not be paying out tens of billions to unsecured Anglo bondholders. If this Government was serious about job creation they would pursue funding from the European Investment Bank. They could use the remaining money from the National Pension Reserve Fund to invest in health infrastructure, home retrofitting and a capital investment stimulus programme. These measures would deliver employment and crucially jump start our economy. If this government was serious about job creation that’s what they would be doing instead of selling off our nation’s assets and future.”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wexford Sinn Féin support Day of Action against Household Tax

Wexford Sinn Féin members and supporters joined protest events organised to highlight the mass opposition to the “Family Taxes” around County Wexford today. Protest events were held in opposition to the household charge, septic tank tax and proposed water charge in Enniscorthy, Wexford and Gorey.
Organisers say over a thousand people attended the main march in Enniscorthy this morning. After an organised parade through the town, protestors gathered outside the office of Fine Gael Minister Paul Kehoe and demanded that he face them. Deputy Kehoe had closed his offices and lowered his blinds, but he was seen inside, and his car was illegally parked nearby.
In Gorey, North Wexford Sinn Féin was out with a petition calling for the abolishment of the Household Charge. They joined the protest on Gorey's main street afterwards.
More protestors gathered on Wexford Bridge for a white line picket. Before the demonstration began, Minister Brendan Howlin and other senior members of the Wexford branch of the Labour Party came out of the nearby Riverbank Hotel. Angry protestors surrounded the Ministers car and briefly prevented him from leaving.
Wexford Sinn Féin elected reps; Cllr Anthony Kelly and Cllr Johnny Mythen took part in today’s events and renewed their calls on the government to abolish the charge, claiming the tax is now uncollectable and that we will have a long summer of anarchy on the streets unless they swallow their pride now, respect the will of the people and abolish the controversial household tax immediately.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Split in County Wexford Fianna Fail over Household Tax?

Wexford Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly has asked if a split exists in County Wexford Fianna Fail following the defeat of a motion calling for the abolishment of the Household Charge at a meeting of New Ross Town Council last Tuesday night, only one day after a similar motion was passed by Enniscorthy Town Council.

Cllr Kelly said;

“Last Monday night a motion bought forward by Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen calling for the abolishment of the Household Charge was passed by Enniscorthy Town Council. At that meeting Fianna Fail councillors voted in favour of abolishing the controversial tax. The following night Fianna Fail councillors voted against a similar motion and in favour of the disputed tax at a meeting of New Ross Town Council.”

“Last month I brought a motion calling for the abolishment of the Household Charge before Wexford Borough Council. It was defeated when local Fianna Fail reps voted with Fine Gael and Labour party councillors in favour of the tax.”

“The Household Charge is causing a lot of anguish for thousands of families across this county. Opposition to the charge has been vocal and definite. I think it’s high time that all opposition councillors, Fianna Fail included, made it clear to their constituents exactly where they stand in regard to this regressive tax.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Enniscorthy Town Council vote for abolishment of the Household Charge.

A motion calling for the Household Charge to be abolished was passed by Enniscorthy Town Council tonight (Monday 20th). The motion was put forward by Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen, who described the Household Charge as “unfair, unjust, and definitely unbalanced.”

Cllr Mythen said;
“I would like to ask my fellow councillors to support this motion tonight in the belief this Household charge/ tax is unfair, unjust, and is definitely unbalanced. A millionaire living in a mansion will pay the same as a family living in a bed sit, an apartment, or a small house. People on social welfare, people on old age, blind, widow and widowers pensions, and people on disability benefits are all eligible to pay this regressive tax if they have what is now being considered the luxury of owning their own homes.”

“People that bought their own homes, especially in the last few years, have already paid thousands of euro through stamp duty, and are now being told to pay another property tax. This equates to double taxation. Finally, families in the awful predicament of relying on mortgage protection while realising time is running out are also caught in this macro net of unfairness.”

Full Text of Cllr Mythen's motion.
That Enniscorthy Town Council call upon Minister Phil Hogan to abolish the House hold charge.
Noting that,

This charge is unfair and does not take into account genuine people who cannot pay; millionaires will pay the same as those on a low income, or an ordinary man or women who have purchased their own Council house.

This charge is a precursor to a much larger charge to follow i.e. property tax.

This charge is grossly unjust and is effectively punishing the people who through their own hard work bought their own homes without any Government assistance.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kelly welcomes SIPTU's opposition to Household Charge

Wexford Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly has welcomed SIPTU’s decision to oppose the Household Charge. Cllr Kelly, who has been campaigning for the full reversal of the controversial tax, said that SIPTU must now put words into action by using their considerable influence with the Labour party to push for the abolishment of the Household Charge.

“I welcome SIPTU’s decision to come out against the Household Charge,” Cllr Kelly said, “But they now must act to bring about the reversal of this unfair tax. There’s no use sitting on the sidelines saying they oppose it or half-heartily telling people not to pay the charge. That won’t stop the tax. The only way to stop the Household Charge is to have it abolished in the Dail. SIPTU is the nation’s biggest union and carries great clout with the government, particularly the Labour party. Its time they used that influence to work with Sinn Féin and others who have campaigned for the abolishment of this tax.”

“I have been informed by Brian Stanley TD, who is steering our national campaign for the reversal of the Household Charge, that Sinn Féin will be seeking a meeting with SIPTU immediately in order to co-ordinate our campaigns. In the meantime Wexford Sinn Féin members and opponents of the household tax are still going door to door with a petition calling for the abolishment of this tax. I would urge people to join us in getting this instrument of political pressure out across the county.”

Kehoe flees office as Sinn Féin ask him to hand back €17,000 “bonus”

Wexford Sinn Féin has criticised local Government TD Paul Kehoe for fleeing from his office last Saturday morning ahead of a protest there. Over fifty people gathered outside the Fine Gael deputy’s office to ask him to hand back a €17,000 pay hike. Deputy Kehoe closed early to avoid the protest and questions as to how he can justify taking such a large pay hike on top of his already generous salary of €130,000 per annum while ordinary people are suffering the effects of harsh austerity measures.

“This payment demonstrates the widening gap between ordinary citizens, and a Government drunk on power which is obsessed with taxation and austerity and rewarding themselves huge expenses and bonuses,” Enniscorthy Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen said after receiving numerous complaints from constituents over what he termed "money for old rope."

“How many times has Paul Kehoe said that there is no money available to avoid harsh austerity? Just before Christmas he asked concerned Gorey parents, whose children lost their teacher due to savage education cuts, to give suggestions as how money might be saved so as to avoid these hard choices. It’s a pity Deputy Kehoe didn’t suggest not accepting his ludicrous pay hike. The fact that he didn’t shows utter contempt for his own constituents.”

“I welcome the fact that Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has moved the Dail’s Finance Committee to scrutinise Deputy Kehoe's extra payment, which amounts to an extra €326 per week on top of a minister’s salary of €130,000 per year. Let’s put that in perspective. That sum could pay the household charge for 170 homes or the pay the registration fee for the septic tank charge for 3,400 households. It would take someone on basic social welfare payments 91 weeks to earn what is only a bonus payment to our local Fine Gael TD. Nothing that Deputy Kehoe can say or do will justify this obscene pay hike.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Over 100 people at meeting against the septic tank charge in Ballinaboola

Over 100 people attended a public meeting against the septic tank charge in the Horse and Hound, Ballinaboola last Wednesday night (15th). The meeting was called by Wexford Sinn Féin and organised by local farmer Oisín O’Connell. The meeting was chaired by Mr O’Connell with the other main speakers being South East Senator David Cullinane, Cllr Anthony Kelly and Cllr Johnny Mythen.

“Let's start by saying what we’re not against: the social and environmental necessity of clean water,” Mr O’Connell said.

“Government spokespeople will be quick to blame the EU directive for the introduction of this charge. This particular directive dates back to 1975. The directive can be seen as an alarm clock, warning us that we are in breach of environmental laws. The question is not why has the alarm gone off, but rather why have successive Irish governments hit the ‘snooze’ button?”

“It's not true that the scheme has to be implemented the way the government is doing it - Scotland, the North of Ireland, and even Cavan all have different ways of dealing with this. They are not getting fined. What is happening is that we - 440,000 rural families - are bailing out successive governments' abdication of duty. They should be providing a framework of collective action. For upgrading what is actually part of our national infrastructure, that provides a public good. A framework for supporting, rather than punishing people who provide it.”

Later he added: “When I was on the radio with Deputy Liam Twomey, the Fine Gael TD said that in his opinion only about ten percent of tanks would need to be upgraded. I pointed out that there wasn’t much point in the people putting their faith in 'ifs', 'maybes' and 'probably' - particularly when the only known quantity is the law giving fines of up to €5000 for non-compliance. And this before revealing any details of standards or grants available.”

Senator David Cullinane said:

“It's an absolute disgrace that the Minister has refused to make the standards that tanks will be judged by available to the public. They do not know what will be expected or whether they will get any support from the state for remediation of tanks. People living in cities and towns do not have to pay for remediation of water mains other than through their taxes. Why should people in rural areas pay for the remediation of their septic tanks when they pay the same taxes?”

“When I raised this issue of discrimination against rural dwellers with government reps they said not to worry, water charges are on the way and that would lead to people in more urban areas paying similar new taxes to the septic tank charge. They said you’ll have your equality then.”

“People have to take a stand. I can’t tell anyone not to pay these taxes - people must make up their own minds. Draconian fines have been tabled and it’s likely that people who do not pay will face the full wrath of this government. Everyone must make up their own mind as I have made up mine: I will not pay the household charge and I will not register for the septic tank tax until the Minister stops this dangerous game he is playing and reveals the full details of standards and grants involved in this act.”

Cllr Johnny Mythen said:

“The government is accusing Sinn Féin of scaremongering. Who are the real scare merchants? Who have become the masters of shock and awe? The Government railroaded the water services bill through the Dail, stating that it had to be passed by the third of February or Ireland would be fined €26,000 a day. However the European Commission has since confirmed that this was not the case.”

“This septic tank charge is an attack on rural Ireland, adding to the many others, like the loss of our rural post offices, garda stations, deis schools, fuel allowances, CE schemes and above all, the decimation of our parishes by forced emigration.”

“This Act is flawed. It’s flawed because it places the entire cost on the hands of the septic tank holder. It’s flawed because it does not contain a sufficient certainty of terms, regarding the standards required. It’s flawed because it was guillotined through the Dail. Its flawed because it is an unbalanced tax directed at the rural communities of Ireland.”

Cllr Anthony Kelly said:

“The government needs to stop playing mind games with the people of Ireland. Dropping the registration fee to five euro is fooling no one. The registration fee, regardless of cost, is not the biggest concern for families. The key issue is the standard against which their tanks will be assessed and the cost of upgrading. For Fine Gael TDs to state that no one will have any problem paying this tax now that the registration fee has been reduced is not only highly misleading but utterly insulting to the four hundred and forty thousand rural dwellers living in fear of this charge.”

“The Water Services Act has given dangerously draconian powers to inspectors to come onto people’s property without their consent. Inspectors will have the right to come on and start digging up your garden and then go away and not come back for three or four weeks. People will not stand for this.”

When asked by a member of the audience what he would do if an inspector came onto his property, Cllr Kelly said he would meet them and would make sure that his local Fine Gael or Labour representative was called. “These are the people with the controlling majority in our Dail, the people who are passing these outrageous laws. Its time all of them, TDs, Senators and local councillors were asked clearly, whose side are you on?”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

17000 euro increase for Deputy Kehoe while asking Gorey parents for suggestions on savings

Spokesperson for North Wexford Sinn Féin, Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, lashes Deputy Kehoes double standards.

Paul Kehoe and Jan O'Sullivan, two so-called 'Super Junior' ministers, are to get an extra 17,000 euro on top of their already generous 130,000 Euro salaries after Enda Kenny signed off on the increase at the end of January.

" Deputy Kehoe met with a delegation of parents in Gorey before Christmas, whose childrens lost their teacher due to savage education cuts.He claimed that hard choices had to be made and asked for suggestions as to how money could be saved. Need I say more.I shall assume he wont be accepting this huge salary increase as an act of solidarity or "patriotism" to which his leader often makes reference.

"Jan O'Sullivan is a member of the party voted in to keep an eye on any FG excesses when it came to looking after their own. So far, just one year down the road, both Labour and Fine Gael have shown that they're on their way to being every bit as contemptuous of public opinion as their predecessors. Jobs given to loyal party hacks, failure to tackle waste of public resources, u-turns on payments to bond holders, pay hikes for advisors and now cream on the trifle for Jan and Paul."

"This payment is coming while the public are still struggling with the results of the Budget that Deputy Kehoe helped introduce.
It seems that it is business as usual in Irish politics and the one-finger salute to the electorate still the preferred choice of communimcation methods" stated Ó Suilleabháin.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Septic Tank Scheme Stinks

The organiser of a public meeting against the government’s proposed septic tank scheme, has said that its core issues and roll-out ‘stinks’. Oisin O’Connell from Foulkesmill said that he decided to organise the meeting in the Horse-and-Hound, Ballinaboola on the fifteenth of February, to highlight misconceptions surrounding the controversial scheme, and to present sensible alternatives.

“Our core concerns remain,” Mr O’Connell said, “what are the actual tank standards? What assistance will be available if we now need to upgrade our systems, despite having complied by the rules that the institutions of state set previously? Instead of answering these questions, Minister Phil Hogan has introduced draconian legislation which dictates that householders will be dragged through the courts and may be fined up to €5,000 if they cannot comply with his secret standards. The heavy-handedness, and lack of clarity surrounding this scheme stinks.”

“The entire septic tank scheme is of huge concern to rural Ireland. The government wants the power to criminalise people first, but without telling us what the actual rules are. They are trying to distract us from core issues like this, including the great personal and family costs of upgrades. They are trying to muddy the waters by focusing on the additional costs of the appeals process and registration - as though these were the only issues.”

“The issue is not about the genuine environmental and social need to protect our water-tables and water sources. The issue is about using this as a money-grabbing tactic at a time of economic collapse. The issue is about successive governments who failed to comply with EEC/EU directives regarding the disposing of domestic wastewater - dating back to 1975. Now want us to pay, to fix it for them overnight. Rural householders who have paid for their own infrastructure - dug their own wells and installed their own sewerage system - now have to bailout government abdication of duty.”

“We need a grant scheme for upgrades. It should be a given that any upgrading will be exempt from planning permission. Criminalising, and threatening homeowners with massive fines, must end. These people are ordinary rural dwellers who have provided their own infrastructure at great cost to themselves. Now the goalposts have been shifted half-way through - but we don't even know what the new rules are, that we are being threatened with not complying with. There are existing, practical, and working alternatives to this kafkaesque shambles.”

A public meeting against the governments Septic Tank Scheme will be held in the Horse and Hound, Ballinaboola on Wednesday the 15th at 8pm. Oisin O’Connell and Senator David Cullinane will be the main speakers and all are welcome to attend and contribute.

“HSE refuse to answer Wexford Sinn Féin Councillor’s questions about trolley crisis”

Wexford Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly has reacted angrily to Wexford General Hospitals Manager Lily Byrnes failure to attend yet another meeting of the Borough Council to explain the growing trolley crisis at our local hospital.

It’s been some months now since Cllr Kelly first requested that Ms Byrne attend a meeting of Wexford Borough Council to answer questions put to him by worried constituents. Each month a new excuse is invented to keep the hospital manager out of the line of Cllr Kelly’s questions.

“It's another fob-off,” Cllr Kelly said, “The HSE is showing contempt for Wexford Borough Council.”

Cllr Kelly’s comments were strongly supported by other councillors according to this week’s Wexford People newspaper. Cllr Kelly said that the hospital manager should come forward and allow local councillors the right to put their constituents concerns directly to her.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The people have spoken – Only 3% have paid household charge

Cllr Anthony Kelly has renewed his call on the government to reverse the Household Charge, claiming the fact that only 3% of the population has paid the household charge to be a clear indication of the true will of the Irish people. The Sinn Féin councillor urged the government to back down now and avoid a devastating stand-off with their people which will benefit no one.

“Following a Sinn Féin parliamentary question, it has been revealed that only 3% of the population have paid the household charge,” Cllr Kelly said, “This is a clear indication that the greater majority of Irish people oppose this charge and consider it a tax too far. Out of a total of 1.8 million households only 63,011 have registered, while just 51,401 of the 1.6 million households liable have paid the charge.”

“From the start my colleagues and I have made it clear that we support those who choose not to pay the charge, but we will not call for non payment. Sinn Féin fully opposes the household charge but cannot justify calling on people not to pay and to face the full wrath of the government in this economic crisis.”

“Recently I have been informed that literature has been circulated which claims that it is not obligatory to register or to pay the household charge. This information is false and those circulating it are misleading innocent families into believing that there will be no consequences to not paying this charge. The Household Charge Bill is clear; those who do not register or pay can be issued with a class C fine.”

“This government must recognise that the Irish people won’t back down on this issue. Fining thousands of already struggling Irish families will do no one any good. Sinn Féin is calling on the government to back down and to scrap the Household Charge immediately. I’m calling on all elected members of Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fail and the other parties in this county to stand by their constituents now by joining our call for the full reversal of this charge. The only way to stop the Household Tax and conflict between our government and thousands of families is to scrap the charge now.”