Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hogan’s funding cut will decapitate local government in Wexford – Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has accused Minister Phil Hogan of endangering local government in County Wexford after it emerged that the Minister for the Environment was to withhold part of the Local Government Fund Allocation. This will result in a decrease of between 5% and 15% in funding for local council in Wexford from central government. The Sinn Féin rep slammed Minister Hogan for blaming household tax boycotters over his decision to cut funding and effectively decapitate local government in Wexford.

Cllr Kelly said;

“Minister Hogan’s decision to replace funding for local government with revenue from the controversial household charge earlier this year was a vain attempt to justify a tax that was never going to be accepted by homeowners in this state. The Minister made a mistake which has left local authorities across the country in an impossible financial position.”

“Now he plans to impose further cuts in central government allocations for the remainder of 2012. Someone needs to tell the Minister that two wrongs don’t make a right.”

“Sinn Féin warned that the government’s decision to tie local government funding to the uncollectable and inequitable Household Charge would lead to a breakdown in local services and make local authorities redundant. The Fine Gael and Labour government were wrong then and they are wrong now with their decision to penalise local authorities for the mess they have created.”

“Minister Hogan has said that the LGFA could be increased in September if councils step up their collection rates. This is literally holding councils and citizens to ransom. The Minister seems incapable of seeing that this decision will decapitate local government and increase dissent among the electorate.”

Cllr Kelly also rejected Minister Hogan’s claim that it was the duty of the revenue commissioners to collect the property tax that will replace the controversial household charge.

“The collection of the government’s property tax should not be the duty of the revenue commissioners. This tax is the brainchild of a government that has blatantly rejected the will of the people. The mission statement of our revenue commissioners states that their responsibility is ‘to serve the community by fairly and efficiently collecting taxes’. How can this be applied to a tax that has been deemed unfair by a majority of Irish people?”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

O’ Connell calls for government to cut tax on agri diesel

A New Ross farmer has called on the government to cut tax on agricultural diesel to safeguard the Irish agriculture. Mr O’ Connell, the Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin, said that the cost of agri diesel had doubled in the last three years, and insisted that the government has the power, and the responsibility, to cut the large tax on it to protect the vital agri export sector.

Mr O’ Connell said;

“Fuel costs for farmers have doubled in the last three years. Unfortunately, despite a rise in fortunes, farm profits have not increased at this rate. The price of agricultural diesel has increased by 54% in the last two years. During the same period road diesel increased by 35%. “

“According to the Irish Petrol Retail Association, up to 57% of the price paid at the pump goes back to the government in tax. Clearly the government has the ability to immediately reduce the heavy strained being placed on the agri industry due to these costs.”

“Much has been made by the current government of the potential use of exports to lift us out of recession. More than any other industry, Ireland’s agri sector could dramatically increase its export potential given the right conditions. It’s estimated that global food production will have to increase by 70% in the coming decades. In order to meet this demand, and the targets laid out in the food harvest 2020 paper, our government must protect and nurture our agricultural industry.”

“At a time when our government calls for industrial and commercial competitiveness, Ireland’s competitiveness in agriculture is being damaged due to expensive road haulage and the distance we are from our markets. The cost that agricultural contractors face when trying to carry out their work on farms is also untenable, particularly during the summer and harvest periods. These massive costs are then in turn off-loaded on the farmer.”

“Sinn Féin is calling on the government to immediately address these figures by reducing the tax on agricultural diesel to a sustainable level.”

Garda shortage is danger to Wexford communities – Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has called for the lifting of the Garda recruitment embargo as soaring crime rates in County Wexford shows the obvious need to have more officers on the beat in our communities. The Sinn Féin Councillor said recent CSO figures show that there was a 38% rise in burglary offences in County Wexford between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

“County Wexford is in the grip of a soaring crime wave,” Cllr Kelly said, “Communities, particularly vulnerable and elderly residents, are living in fear. Recent figures show a massive 38% rise in burglary offences in County Wexford between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of this year.”

“This figure is startling, but even more shocking is the completely non-existent response to this crime wave. The Gardaí are simply not in a position to deal adequately with this crisis. They have bore the brunt of government austerity cuts as much as any other group. In the past few months we have seen twenty nine rural Garda stations close their doors for the last time. Two of these were Wexford stations, Ballywilliam and Baldwinstown. Its alarming to note that is only phase one of Garda station closures.”

“More damaging than the closure of these stations is the continued garda recruitment embargo. Sinn Féin has never agreed with the recruitment embargo in any section of our public services. The embargo on frontline garda officers at a time when crime is on the rise makes no sense and cannot be justified. It’s time the government lifted this embargo and allowed more gardaí on the beat so the force can be fully effective again.”

“It would also make sense to arrange for the civilianisation of administrative garda duties in order to deploy more fully trained gardaí on the frontline where there are most urgently needed. It makes no sense that rural garda stations are closing or remaining unmanned while fully trained gardaí are forced to sit at desks and fill out paperwork.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sinn Féin worried about Mortgage Interest Supplement Cuts

New Ross Sinn Féin has raised concerns over recent changes to the eligibility criteria for mortgage interest supplement. Local rep and Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin Oisin O’ Connell said that his organisation had very real fears that newly unemployed mortgage holders could face up to eighteen months of ‘personal hell and financial torment’ waiting for state help.

Mr O’ Connell said;

“The changes in the allocation of the Mortgage Interest Supplement will increase the likelihood of mortgage arrears and heighten the possibility of repossessions. It makes no sense that this is the government’s response to the mortgage catastrophe, something which our Taoiseach has often described as the biggest crisis facing the Irish people.”

Up until the end of June the Mortgage Interest Supplement provided all unemployed mortgage holders who met the criteria with all or part of their mortgage interest paid by the Department of Social Welfare for a year after they lost their job. Under the new rules, mortgage holders will first have to approach their banks or building society and negotiate a restructuring of their mortgage. The restructuring plan will have to be in place for 12 months before they can even apply to the Department of Social Welfare for the mortgage interest supplement.

“Realistically it could take a newly unemployed person up to six months to set up a restructuring plan with their financial provider,” Mr O’ Connell said, “This will be followed with a year-long waiting period during which time the mortgage holder will be put through the most callous financial torment imaginable. It will be a year of personal hell for these people and their families.”

“Worse of all, at the end of this year of misery the borrower will have to approach the Department of Social Protection and apply for Mortgage Interest Supplement. It could take months before a department official decides whether the person is entitled to mortgage relief.”

Kelly welcomes stimulus package but warns against the sale of vital state assets

Cllr Anthony Kelly has welcomed the government’s announcement of a €2 billion stimulus package, which will boost the areas of transport, education and health, and lead to the completion of major road works in County Wexford. However the Sinn Féin Councillor warned against selling vital state assets to fund any plan, saying that the ‘pawning of the family silver’ could only lead to long term problems for the state. Cllr Kelly also questioned why a specific job creation plan had not been attached to this stimulus.

“I welcome the announcement that €2 billion will be invested into our transport, education and health systems,” Cllr Kelly said, “This is said to include the green-lighting of major road works in County Wexford. This is good news for Wexford and will likely create some new employment. I would have preferred to see the government go a step further and introduce a fully fledged jobs stimulus, funded by the National Pensions Reserve Fund and the European Investment Bank.”

“This announcement is to be welcomed but I would question the government’s claim that part of the funding for this operation will come from the sale of state assets. Selling off parts of successful self-financing commercial State companies is a bad policy decision that will only lead to minor gains in the short term. In the long term, the pawning off of the family silver will lead to major problems for the state and ultimately it is a bad deal for every man, woman and child in this state.”

“Sinn Féin has fully costed a job creation stimulus funded entirely by the National Pension Reserve Fund and the investment from the EIB. The EIB will loan governments or the private sector up to 50% of a project’s funding if it meets their criteria of being a sound and sustainable project such as employment growth, climate change, environmental sustainability, energy, the knowledge economy and infrastructure. Although details are still sketchy, it would seem from the outline of this plan that it meets the EIBs criteria. Why then is the government insisting that we also need funding from the sale of state assets?”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Martin Hurson remembered in Wexford town

A vigil to honour the memory of the sixth man to die on the 1981 H-Block Hunger Strike was held in Wexford towns Bullring this evening. A large group of republicans from across the county attended the 31st anniversary event organised by the local Dunne/Kelly and Joe Whitty cumainn.

Martin Hurson lost the ability to hold down water after around forty days on hunger strike, and died of dehydration six days later on the 13th of July. He had spent five years in prison and during this period had gotten engaged to his long term girlfriend, Bernadette Donnelly. He took part in the blanket protest and then replaced Brendan McLaughlin on hunger strike on the 29th of May.

The next hunger strike commemorative event will be held in New Ross on the 1st of August in memory of Kevin Lynch.

Government austerity forces families into the arms of money lenders

People are being forced to borrow from money lenders to cover their personal debts incurred through government austerity according to a Ferns campaigner. Dominick Gaughan, a spokesperson for the County Wexford Campaign against the Household Tax and Water Charges, has claimed that recent figures released show that cash strapped Irish families are being forced to turn to money lenders in order to cover the effects of government cuts and new taxes.

“The policies of austerity introduced by the last government and continued by our current coalition are forcing ordinary Irish families into the clutches of money lenders who can legally charge up to 187 per cent APR,” Mr Gaughan said. “A recent survey by the Irish Credit Unions found that 40% of people now had to borrow to meet their bills, and most alarmingly, 10% had to borrow from money lenders.”

“Hard working, decent families have been put in a position where they must seek out these lenders because of the actions of our government. The Household tax; cuts to children’s benefit, rent allowance, the winter fuel allowance and many other vital benefits; and recent changes made to eligibility for mortgage interest relief have all contributed to putting families into this position of last resort.”

“The government plans to introduce water and septic tank charges. Many commentators have estimated that households will end up paying in excess of €1000 annually to cover these new taxes coupled with a new property charge. This is at a time when 1.8 million Irish people have no more than €25 left after providing their families with the basic necessities at the end of each week.”

“The government is living in a dream world if they think they can squeeze anymore out of these people and all they will succeed in doing is driving decent folk into the arms of money lenders which will dramatically increase the already catastrophic levels of personal debt in this country.”

“That is why people are refusing to register for the household tax and are preparing to resist the imposition of property and water taxes. It is why people are actively opposing the misguided policies of austerity and taking to the streets. It is why thousands of people will take to the streets on Wednesday of next week (18th July) and join the CAHWT-organised march against austerity. People have had enough and are determined to fight back.”

Frontline staff cut while senior politicians keep their fat pensions

A Sinn Féin Councillor has attacked Minister Brendan Howlin for failing to honour electoral reform pledges made prior to the last general election. Cllr Anthony Kelly said that Minister Howlin's decision to provide special pension provisions for former Oireachtas members and MEPs who win back their seats after losing them at a previous election while frontline Gardaí, Fire-fighters and Hospital Staff are facing devastating cuts was outrageous.
Cllr Kelly said;

“The governments Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) and Remuneration Bill is a damning realisation of where the Labour party stands on its pre election promises to tackle political corruption. Rather than honour their promises to reform the Irish political system, Labour have instead allowed special pension provisions for senior politicians who win back their seats after losing them at a previous election.”

“This is at a time when frontline staff in our most vital services are under increasing pressure due to government cuts. Ask our nurses in Wexford General Hospital, our fire-fighters around the county or our Gardaí who have seen many of their rural stations closed down if they think it is appropriate that the only civil servants not being cut are the ones at the top.”

“Minister Howlin did not include provisions to end early retirements and special pension payoffs for current Secretaries General or indeed future or current City and County Managers. Minister Howlin's Labour party and his colleagues in Fine Gael also refused to support a cap on public sector pensions.”

“Reform Minister Howlins support of special pension provisions for former Oireachtas members and MEPs is outrageous. It is shocking that Fine Gael and Labour would deem it right or proper to slip in this kind of preferential treatment for politicians.”

Will water meter installers check properties for leaks? – Mythen

An Enniscorthy Councillor has asked that the government verify whether or not the installers of water meters will have a legal responsibility to check each property they meter for leaks and if so, will they repair those leaks before any charges are applied. Cllr Johnny Mythen, who has been one of the leading voices against water charges in the Enniscorthy district, said that the government’s plans for a water tax had more to do with privatisation than conservation.

“The government has let it be known that every home will have to pay €800 euro for the installation of their water meters, spread over a twenty year period as an attachment to regular water bills,” Cllr Mythen said. “Annual bills could be as high as €1000 per house. That is the undeniable reality we are facing if households are to be forced to cover the €1 billion government plan for providing metered water across the state.”

“Many people will ask what we are being charged for. Will Irish Water adequately check every property for leaks when they are installing water meters? Will they fix these leaks before any charge is placed on the property? If not, how can the government claim that this charge has anything to do with water conservation?”

“As usual in Ireland we put the cart before the horse. Minister Phil Hogan in his mad flush to install water meters has ignored the real problems. The antiquated Victorian pipe system has more leaks than the titanic. We are losing millions of gallons of water each year. Installing water meters will not fix this serious infrastructure mess. In fact it will mean not only the householder will be paying for the installation of his or her water metre but, also for the water wastage already leaking out through the system. Combined this with a direct charge per litre and the result will be a very large bill indeed.”

“According to the Irish Academy of Engineers the cost of meter installation will be at least €500 million. This €500 million could fund a proper water conservation strategy for six years. The government could take a truly progressive step by investing the €500 million in water conservation rather than meter installation.”

“This brings into question what are the real intentions of the Minister. Just another quick tax fix under the pretence of the conservation of water? Or are we going to seriously tackle this major flaw in the Ministers solution? It's simple; there’s a hole in the bucket dear Enda, dear Enda, well fix it dear Phil, dear Phil.”

“Sinn Féin is calling for the establishment of a National Water Sector Framework Team. This team would oversee governance of the water sector and capital investment for the sector. This allows for local authorities to monitor water usage and leakage at neighbourhood level. Instead of metering people’s homes, we could have district metering which is far more efficient and cost effective.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kelly concerned about local family mental health service

Cllr Anthony Kelly has expressed his concerns over the perceived downgrading of an indispensable family mental health resource in County Wexford. The Sinn Féin rep said that recent changes made to a free drop in service for County Wexford parents who have concerns about the psychological well-being of their children or teenagers appear to limit the resources available. He said that such services were essential in safeguarding against another tragedy like Catstrand or Monageer.

“The free drop in service which was developed by the HSE's Wexford psychology department played a vital role in the lives of many families across the county,” Cllr Kelly said. “The service for parents who had concerns about the psychological well-being of their children or teenagers was introduced in a pilot project in Clonard Community Centre in 2001, followed shortly afterwards by a second service in New Ross. Soon it was introduced in Enniscorthy and Gorey towns as well, and was known to be treating an average of 339 families every year.”

“The service was so popular that it was selected for an award for innovative improvements in public services and better use of resources in 2008. It prompted other counties across the south east to replicate the successful project.”

“Recently the drop in service has been altered. It is now referred to as the Psychology Parent Consultation Service and now operates on alternate Wednesday mornings in Grogan's Road in Wexford town and in the New Ross Health Centre. This is a much reduced service which, I know from concerned constituents, has led to a waiting list.”

“Our county has had more than its fair share of family mental health tragedies. We all remember the terrible events of Catstrand and Monageer. This is an indispensable service which is being obviously downgraded as a direct result of cuts to the mental health budget last December and the continuing public service staffing moratorium.”

“The Psychiatric Nurses Association estimate that up to 50% of the population will suffer from some form of mental illness at some stage in their lives. Mental health services receive just 4.8% of the national health budget which is well short of the EU average of about 12%. Our mental health budget was 13% in 1984.”

“I would urge the government to make funding available so that the full award winning free drop in service can be returned in County Wexford immediately. Its absence will costs lives, and could lead to another tragedy on the scale of Catstrand or Monageer.”

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Anti Social behaviour destroying good communities like Bridgetown

A local Sinn Féin Councillor has said that a wave of anti social behaviour in South Wexford which has lasted on and off for up to three years is destroying good communities. Cllr Anthony Kelly was speaking prior to a public meeting in Bridgetown on Monday night, called after a spate of criminal activity in and around the village.

“This kind of behaviour is destroying good communities and making life extremely difficult for the majority of people who have pride in their locality,” Cllr Kelly said. “Recently I have been in constant contact with members of the local Sinn Féin Parle/Creane/Hogan cumann who have been keeping me up to date with the situation around Bridgetown. The stories I have heard have shocked me. Clearly this new wave of anti social behaviour is every bit as bad as the one which prompted a mass meeting in Kilmore two years ago.”

“The sad thing is Bridgetown is a prime example of a good community. During the boom the village expanded disproportionally to the amount of public services and amenities that were developed there. A large community found itself lacking essential facilities to maintain their village and give their children safe places to interact. What did they do? They banded together, formed one of the best community groups in the south east and got to work on developing those services themselves.”

“To see such a strong community now under threat from this kind of behaviour is very disturbing. The Gardaí must be free to move on the people responsible for these acts. To do that, they need information.”

“I’m calling on the people of Bridgetown and the surrounding areas to report any and all suspicious behaviour. I’m urging them to band together as a community once again. I’m asking them to show the same community spirit they showed when they formed their local community group and organised sports days for their children. Bridgetown is a great village and a beacon of community spirit. Don’t let that be destroyed by anti social behaviour and intimidation.”

Household Tax Boycott will not be defeated by intimidation

A spokesperson for the Campaign against the Household Tax in County Wexford has said that the fight to over-rule the unfair charge is not over by a long shot. Ferns based fire-fighter Dominick Gaughan, responding to Minister Phil Hogan’s decision to send out thousands of warning letters to those who had not paid the controversial charge, said that the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) had a series of new public meetings and protests events lined up across the state, including weekly pickets outside the constituency office of Fine Gael TD Paul Kehoe.

“The sending out of these threatening letters will not break the resolve of those people who have taken a stand and boycotted this unfair tax,” Mr Gaughan said. “According to the latest official figures released at the end of June, just over half of the homes in County Wexford have registered to pay the household charge.”

“The Local Government Management Agency continues to issue thinly veiled threats that penalties and interest continue to accrue for properties not yet registered. This is a form of intimidation, just as the sending out of these bullying letters is another.”

“The government has indicated that they will send out three of these warning letters before any court action is taken. It is important that people realise the reality of this situation. There are over 700,000 people who are not registered across the state. It is ludicrous to even consider for a minute that the government is capable of taking that many people to court and prosecuting them all. It would take years to complete this process.”

“This government could not prosecute everyone within its term. Even if it could, would any government want to bring nearly a quarter of the electorate to court?”

“We are determined that we will not allow this tax to be forced on us, but we are also taking a stand to prevent it being imposed on our children and our grandchildren. They are asking us to pay €100 a year for the privilege of living in our own home now, and we know that this charge coupled with others coming down the line would have us paying €1000 next year or the year after. What we don’t know is how much they will have our kids pay when it comes their time to be taxed if we give in now.”

“We won’t give in. The government has chosen to pick a fight with the people and it’s a fight that they will lose. The CAHWT in County Wexford is now holding weekly pickets outside the office of Deputy Paul Kehoe in Enniscorthy. These pickets are peaceful and designed to show the government that the opposition to this tax has not gone away. We are also organising a mass rally in Dublin on Wednesday the 18th of July. We will meet at Central Bank, Dame St. at 5pm and march to the Dáil.”

“Buses will be going up from County Wexford. Anyone interested in attending what will be a peaceful, family orientated march can book a seat on one of our buses now by contacting me at 087-7978011.”

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Rent Allowance rules endanger tenants

Changes made to the rent allowance scheme as a result of the government’s decision to cut €21 million from it in the last budget is only now becoming a major issue and poses a significant danger to tenants. That’s according to Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly who is calling on the government to rethink the changes to the scheme.

Cllr Kelly said;

“In the last budget the government cut €21 million from the rent allowance allocation. Its only now that we are seeing the effects of that as thousands of families across the state receive letters notifying them of the new rent allowance thresholds and advising that they should immediately begin the process of renegotiating their rent with their landlords.”

“The government expects families reliant on state help to pay their rents to successfully renegotiate their leases downwards despite being in an extremely poor bargaining position. They offer no help, support or information.”

“There is every chance that many will fail to get their rent lowered and will be forced to look for new accommodation. It is the government’s responsibility to avoid this by renegotiating directly with landlords.”

“There are 98,000 people in receipt of Rent Allowance in Ireland. This is because we have such a poor provision of social housing. It has to be the great irony of this country that we have more houses than we can ever use, but also have families waiting for up to six years for a council house.”

“Sinn Féin has consistently argued for the utilisation of vacant NAMA held properties as social housing. Across this county we have boarded up houses and half empty estates. Where is the sense in this when people are crying out for accommodation?”

"In the long-term the government must examine the suitability of these unused properties for social housing. In the short-term they must settle the fears of people reliant on rent allowance by providing support and information as to how to go about asking their landlords for a reduction in their rent.”

“They should also be prepared to negotiate directly with landlords to secure reduced levels of rent. This is possible; all Landlords are required to register their leases with the Private Residential Tenancies Board, which already offers a dispute resolution service, which offers a mechanism for the resolution of any disputes as regards rent.”

Ulster Bank must compensate customers – Kelly

The Ulster Bank debacle shows that the worst excesses of Celtic Tiger cronyism have survived the recession. That is the view of Wexford Cllr Anthony Kelly who is calling on the banking institution to compensate customers who have incurred fees and costs as a result of Ulster Banks failure to process their payments. The Sinn Féin Councillor also demanded that those responsible for this crisis should be held accountable and not be given the chance to use their influence to escape reprimand.

Cllr Kelly said;

“The chaos caused by the IT system crash at Ulster Bank has caused disruption to the lives of up to half a million Ulster Bank customers, as well as also impacting on customers of other banking institutions. The delay in processing of payments as left many customers with fees and costs through no fault of their own. Frontline bank employees are not the cause
of this problem but are being left to face the barrage of angry queries from frustrated customers.”

“The Central Bank has publicly admitted the damage that has been caused and has stated that they will urge Ulster Bank to compensate customers who have incurred damages. This must be done for the mass of small and medium enterprises that have been detrimentally affected, but also for ordinary customers who may have acquired late payments penalties or credit card fees as a result of their inability to access their own money.”

“We are now into the third week of this problem. Tens of thousands of Ulster Bank customers are still having serious problems accessing their funds. No one has been held accountable. Only last week the CEO of Ulster Bank, Jim Brown, confirmed that he wouldn’t be accepting his annual bonus, but only after intense pressure was put on him not to do so. No resignations or admissions of fault have been forthcoming.”

“Just as the former Chairman of Anglo Irish Bank got off with any punishment for his role in the banking corruption which blackmailed our state, the people at the top in Ulster Bank will get off with the damage they have caused to families across this state.”

“Those responsible for the Ulster Banks complete failure in handling this problem should tender their resignations to give the Irish people back their confidence in their banking system.”

Joe McDonnell remembered in Enniscorthy

Historic Enniscorthy town played host to a vigil in memory of Republican Hunger Striker Joe McDonnell this afternoon. The event was organised by the four local Sinn Féin cumainn; The Father Murphy/Keegan/Parle cumann, the Peter Daly cumann, the Kielty/Forde cumann and the Kelly/Nolan cumann on the eve of the 31st anniversary of the Belfast man’s death in the H-Blocks.
Around fifty people took part in the memorial, including local Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen, former Enniscorthy Town Council member Noirin Sheridan and Wexford Town Cllr Anthony Kelly.
A vigil to mark the anniversary of Martin Hurson will be held in the Bull Ring in Wexford town this Friday evening at 6.30pm. All are welcome to attend.

58,967 reasons why government’s austerity policies have failed – Kelly

There are 58,967 reasons why the government’s austerity policies have failed the south east according to Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly. The Wexford Councillor, referring to the latest CSO survey which reveals that there are 58,967 people on the live register in the south east, criticised the Fine Gael and Labour government for introducing failed policies that were entirely inadequate with dealing with the mass unemployment epidemic which we are faced with.

“How many times has this government said that job creation was its number one priority?” Cllr Kelly asked, “Yet, fifteen months after entering power and despite mass emigration in the meantime, the unemployment rate is now creeping towards the 15% mark. In the south east there are 58,967 people on the live register.”

“Nationally we now have over 200,000 people who are long term unemployed. Fine Gaels promised mass job creation plan has not come about and it is clear that it cannot come about as long as they pursue the failed policies of austerity. The government must reject austerity and come forward with a credible jobs plan which can be put into effect immediately.”

“Sinn Féin has consistently argued that the only way out of this recession is through stimulus. We have proposed a €7 billion investment package in job creation over three years. Estimates from the Department of Finance and the Construction Industry Federation put the creation of 8,000 to 12,000 jobs for every €1 billion invested. This would mean our investment would see an average of 60,000 jobs created directly, with thousands more indirectly, not to mention the thousands of jobs that will be saved by the stabilisation of the economy and the injection of new disposable income into the domestic economy.”

“This proposal would be funded by the remaining €5.3 billion in the National Pension Reserve Fund and €1.7 billion in funding from the European Investment Bank. The EIB will loan governments 50% of a projects funding if it meets their criteria of being a sound and sustainable project.”

“It would be possible to access this funding and begin a major investment in the Irish state through the roll out of common sense, sustainable projects such as the construction of new schools, state run crèches and primary health care centres; the completion of regeneration projects in our cities; the construction of new, and development of already built vacant properties which would be suitable for social housing; and the expansion of next generation broadband across the state.”

Cllr Mythen has the plight of small schools raised in Dail through the office of Sean Crowe TD

Local Councillor Johnny Mythen had the closure of Killegney NS, a Church of Ireland school near Enniscorthy, raised in the Dail by Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Sean Crowe TD this week. Cllr Mythen described the Department of Education’s decision to close the 107 year old school, which only two years ago was given a €250,000 make-over, as an affront on a small rural community.

“Cuts made in last Decembers budget are having a discriminatory effect on religious minorities in our society,” Cllr Mythen said, “A prime example of this is Killegney National School near Enniscorthy. Two years ago a quarter of a million euro was spent making Killegney a state of the art school. For what? To turn it into a ghost school?”

“Does the minister realise protestant children have attended this school for over hundred and seven years? We know that five out of eight Church of Ireland schools in the Diocese of Ferns are threatened with closure unless Minister Quinn revises his current one size fits all strategy. Obviously the criteria he is applying cannot be implemented without unjustly crippling the services provided to children of minority faiths.”

“The present criteria targets small rural schools, the very green shoots of rural Ireland, the hub of any community. Without these schools small villages will not survive. Only twelve of the twenty six counties provide a Protestant Secondary School of any description. There are only six non-fee paying Protestant second-level schools, three of which are in Dublin and Wicklow.”

“The evaluation of the viability of schools cannot be based on cost alone. The minister is carrying out these cuts; without any social, psychological, or scientific data; and is basing his decisions on a purely financial platform. If this minister gets his way the ring of the country school bell will be as rare as the sound of the corncrake.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wexford government TDs slammed for failure to support bill on small rural schools

Sinn Féin spokeperson for North Wexford Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin has slammed government deputies Brendan Howlin, Liam Twomey and Paul Kehoe for their failure to support The Education Amendment Bill which was debated in Leinster House yesterday evening (Wed.) Attending a protest outside of Leinster House to coincide with the bill Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin said that it is "hypocritical for these deputies to feign concern for rural communities when they support cuts which will rip the heart out of rural Wexford. It seems to be a case of being the poacher when in the corridors of power in Dublin but acting the gamekeeper when here in Co. Wexford"

Speaking in the chamber on the Education Amendment Bill last night (Wed.) Sinn Féin T.D. and party spokeperson on Education Seán Crowe, highlighted the fact that 5 out of 8 Church of Ireland schools in the Diocese of Ferns may face closure if Minister Quinn isn't forced to back down. He also cited the example of Killegney Church of Ireland school outside Clonroche closing its doors last week after 107 years in existence despite a quarter of a million euro having been spent on its refurbishment just 2 years ago.

Referring to Minister Quinns cuts to small rural schools, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, Drew Nelson, in a historic address to the Seanad this week stated that "the Protestant community actually fears for its continued survival as a viable, self-sustaining community,"