Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Downgrading of Garda stations is unacceptable - O' Súilleabháin

Minister Alan Shatters decision to close eighty rural based Garda stations is another example of the government's policy of downgrading the Gardaí according to a spokesperson for local Sinn Féin.  Fionntán O' Suilleabháin described the decision as totally unacceptable and urged the Minister to back down.  He also called for clarification that Gorey Garda Station will not be downgraded from a district headquarters to a sub-station of Enniscorthy.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"Minister Shatters move to close eighty rural based Garda stations is totally unacceptable and yet another example of the government's policy of downgrading the Gardaí.  These closures will leave even more communities under siege from anti social elements."

"County Wexford has already lost two Garda stations under the Ministers reign; Ballywilliam and Baldwinstown.  Any further closures must be resisted.  The IFA and the Garda Representatives Association have already voiced their opposition to these cuts.  It's time for more community groups to come out and stand against the downgrading of vital frontline services."

"Plans to downgrade Gorey Garda Station from a district headquarters to a sub-station of Enniscorthy should be scrapped.  This would be an extremely regressive move and would leave Gorey deprived of adequate Garda resources.  I have passed on a question to our TDs to be raised in Leinster House on this issue."

"North Wexford Sinn Féin will be holding a public meeting on the ongoing attacks on rural Ireland in late November."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Protest at Wexford General Hospital today

The ongoing protests over the closure of an operating theatre continue outside Wexford General Hospital later today.  Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly said that the protests would continue until operating theatre 2 was reopened and full services were resumed at the hospital. 

Following a meeting between hospital management and a Borough Council delegation which included Cllr Kelly during the week, Wexford Sinn Féin has reiterated that that these protests are not an attack on Wexford General or its hard working staff but rather an attempt to safeguard our local hospital from any form of downgrading. 

Today's protest will begin at 1.30pm outside the grounds of Wexford General.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Invest in water infrastructure instead of water tax – O’ Súilleabháin

A local spokesperson for Sinn Féin and campaigner against household and water taxes has called on the government to invest in water infrastructure instead of a water tax in Budget 2013.  Fionntán O’ Súilleabháin said that sequence investment in water infrastructure would conserve the water supply and create employment.  County Wexford currently loses 38% of its public water supply through leaking pipes every year.

Mr O’ Súilleabháin said;

“The government’s arguments for the introduction of water charges are flawed.  The introduction of water meters is not about water conservation but rather a simple minded attempt at generating revenue.  The government has learned nothing from its ill fated experience with the household tax.”

“There is a common sense alternative to water charges.  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.”

“Fine Gaels New Era document committed to investing €4.2 billion to upgrade Irelands antiquated water supply network.  They have since abandoned this promise like so many others.  Instead of paying €500 million for water meters, the government should be moving to fix the leaks in our water supply network.”

“Ireland currently spends €700 million a year just to produce clean drinking water.  This excludes capital investment.  Sinn Féin is proposing a €500 million investment over four years aimed at fixing and upgrading our water pipe lines, focusing on reservoir loss and the distribution network.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

14th consecutive quarter of decline shows stark reality for businesses - Mythen

Enniscorthy Sinn Fein Cllr Johnny Mythen has described a new report by the retail industry as stark proof that austerity is not the solution.  Commenting on the Retail Excellence Ireland report which shows that  Irish retail has declined for the fourteenth consecutive quarter, Cllr Mythen said that this decline has led to the loss of 60,000 jobs.

Cllr Mythen said;

"Every month for the last three and a half years retail sales have dropped.  In broad terms this has directly resulted in 60,000 job losses and thousands of small businesses gone to the wall in this industry alone."

"Add the startling fact that 1.8 million people are left with €100 a month after the bills are paid and there you have a fine example of how austerity policies  are wrecking our economy and the future of our nation."

"What this survey is showing us is exactly what Sinn Féin has been saying since the recession began.  If you continue to force austerity on ordinary families then it will result in less money being spent in the local economy, more shops going out of business and more unemployment.  Its seemingly simple economics that our government and their Fianna Fail predecessors could not grasp."

"While retail takes a continuous hammering, non-discretionary sectors including Grocery, Pharmacy and Hot Beverage still trade well.  This is a clear indication that people are not hoarding their money, they are simply spending what little they have on the basics.  How can retail, and our wider economy, recover under these circumstances?"

"This report should be a wakeup call for the government.  Its time they stopped trying to convince us that austerity is working and that we are moving out of recession when the statistics point to the opposite."

Temporary rebate on fuel could save jobs – O’ Súilleabháin

Sinn Féin is calling for the introduction of a temporary fuel rebate for transport firms.  Local spokesperson Fionntán O’ Súilleabháin said that such a rebate was common in other European nations and stressed that its introduction here would save jobs.  Mr O’ Súilleabháin highlighted the recent loss of local jobs due to the closure of Target Express as an example of why a fuel tax rebate was a necessity.

Mr O’ Súilleabháin said;

“Last year the Irish Road Haulage Association claimed that this state is losing €200 million a year in revenue because we don’t offer a fuel tax rebate for hauliers.  Haulage licenses have dropped by 1300 in the last three years.  This is estimated to represent 10,000 job losses.  We have seen this close to home with the recent local job losses brought on by the closure of Target Express.”

“Under an EU energy directive member states have the right to lower their diesel tax rates for commercial vehicles, which are defined as lorries over 7.5 tonnes.  Several member states including Belgium, Spain and France make these fuel tax rebates available.  This results in Irish haulage companies being forced to buy their fuel in these countries in order to compete.  This results in a loss of revenue for our state.”

“The introduction of a rebate here would have a net positive effect for the economy if a deal could be struck with haulage firms to purchase the bulk of their fuel in this state.  The IRHA has estimated that the government is missing out on €650 in excise and €340 in VAT per week from each haulier who filled his truck with diesel while abroad.”

Slurry spreading deadline must be reviewed - O' Connell

As the deadline for spreading slurry approaches the Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin has called on the government to show leniency to farmers who have been unable to meet the deadline due to extraordinary bad weather this year.  Oisin O' Connell said that the current deadline in place for slurry spreading is unrealistic, should be reviewed and compared to more practical systems such as the six counties model which allows for spreading throughout the winter months.

Mr O' Connell said;

"The Department of Agriculture's Nitrate Directive the spreading of slurry is prohibited between the October 15th and January 31st every year.  This year the Minister extended the deadline to October 30th after taking into account just how wet farm land is after our extremely poor summer.  While this was a welcome move, it is not enough."

"A recent survey by IFA of over 300 farmers around the country shows that 60% of respondents still have half their slurry to spread, with a quarter having 75% left.  80% said that they are not confident that they will be finished by the new deadline.  Many farmers around County Wexford cannot travel on their land and will not be able to do so by the 31st of October."

"The current deadline is unrealistic.  I'm calling on the Minister to review this deadline and to look at another extension.  Recently my party colleague in the six counties, Minister Michelle O' Neill, has enacted rules that allow any farmer with legitimate excuses to spread slurry during the winter months.  If it can be done in the north, it can be done here."

Education is not being valued by FG/Lab coalition - O' Súilleabháin

Speaking after the value education protest outside the Dail yesterday, Wexford Sinn Féin spokesperson on education Fionntán O' Súilleabháin accused the government of not honouring its promises concerning education.  Mr O' Súilleabháin, a teacher and INTO member, said that Fine Gael and Labour had completely back tracked on promises not increase class sizes and to protect the quality of the educational experience received by our children.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"In 2011 Fine Gael and Labour made a string of promises regarding what they would do to protect our education system when in power.  They have not honoured these promises.  Enda Kenny said that he wished to protect the quality of the educational experience received by our children.  That was before he initiated serious life altering cuts to the SNA programme."

"Many newly qualified teachers are now earning 20% less than their colleagues  who entered the profession a couple of years earlier.  Incredibly those are the lucky ones.  Many cannot find full employment and are forced into short term or part time work contracts.  This is having a demoralising effect on teachers across this state."

"What makes it worse is that we need more teachers.  The government has failed to honour its promise to prevent an increase in class sizes.  The last thing we need now is for young teachers to be forced to emigrate while many children fall through the cracks in our education system due to over sized classes."

"The government continues to preach the need for a strong educated workforce in order to return to sustainable employment levels.  Its time they practised what they preached and moved to safeguard education and our children's future."

Sinn Féin: Hospital Protest will continue

Following on from a meeting last night, the officer board of County Wexford Sinn Féin has confirmed that its weekly protest outside Wexford General Hospital will continue until operating theatre 2 is reopened.  A spokesperson for Wexford Sinn Féin said that Sinn Féins only concern was the future of the hospital and reiterated that these protests were not an attack on the hospital or its hard working staff.

"Cllr Anthony Kelly was part of a delegation that met management at Wexford General Hospital last Tuesday night.  Cllr Kelly agreed not to make a statement on the issue but has urged the party to continue with its weekly protests outside the hospital grounds calling for the immediate reopening of operating theatre 2."

"While Sinn Féin welcomes any possible good news concerning the future of the Wexford General Hospital, operating theatre 2 remains closed.  It has been repeated over and over again that emergency cases are still being dealt with in the hospital but the fact remains that operations have been cancelled as a direct result of this closure.  Many people who have had their operations cancelled have been on waiting lists for years."

"Sinn Féin would certainly welcome the opening of the rumoured third operating theatre at Wexford General but funding should be available to keep the second one opened first.  This is the third time that theatre 2 has been closed for a period in order to balance the books.  What if there was a sudden surge of patients needing emergency care? This would certainly drain the budget.  Would it result in other services being closed to balance the books?"

"Have we now reached the stage where our hospitals are to be run like a business in receivership?"

"Health care is a right.  Sinn Féin is committed to the protection of services at Wexford General.  When the A&E was under threat people power on the streets forced the then Fianna Fail regime to back down."

"It is no secret that Sinn Féin has no confidence in health minister James Reilly.  It is also common knowledge that the Minister plans to cut another €1 billion from the health budget next year.  How long will it be before we have more 'temporary closures' at our hospital?  We would sincerely welcome a positive outcome from this mess but, under the circumstances, will maintain extreme vigilance."

The third protest against the closure of operating theatre 2 will be held outside the grounds of Wexford General Hospital this Saturday at 1.30pm. 

€500 million handed over to finance the ESM

An Enniscorthy Councillor has said the government payout of €500 million to the European Stability Mechanism is taking money from the weakest economy in the union to finance bigger countries.  Cllr Johnny Mythen said the Irish government must stop standing in the soup line of Europe and take our rightful place as an equal memberstate.  The Irish government paid €500 million into the ESM fund last week.

Cllr Mythen said;

"Under the terms of the recent austerity treaty the Government has committed €11 Billion to the ESM.  According to the latest information €500 million is the upfront payment which our government handed over last week."

"If you examine the way this mechanism is set up, Ireland is way down the pecking order in terms of receiving any aid from such a mechanism.  The bigger countries like Spain and Greece are first in line and will empty the kitty in one go leaving Ireland in another precarious position and with growing unsustainable debt."

"This fund is turning out to be another austerity measure being forced on an already weakened economy.  We should be demanding that the Government stop standing in the soup line of Europe and take our rightful place as a participating equal nation with the right of equal financial treatment."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Future of operating theatre 2 is not guaranteed - Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has raised questions over the legitimacy of the HSEs claims that the closure of operating theatre 2 at Wexford General Hospital is a temporary cost saving measure.  Speaking at the second protest outside the hospital in consecutive weeks, the Sinn Féin Councillor said that similar promises had been made concerning the closure of St Aidan's ward in  2010, and had clearly been broken with the failure to return 25 beds to service. 

Cllr Kelly said;

"I would have serious reservations in accepting the HSEs word that the future of operating theatre 2 will be secure after the eleven week 'temporary closure' comes to an end.  According to the timeframe given, operating theatre 2 in Wexford General Hospital is due to be closed only until the 24th of December." 

"However considering the massive cuts to the health service rumoured to be contained in budget 2013, which will be announced in early December, and taking into account the hospitals inability to operate within their restrictive budget this year, I would have justified fears concerning the future of the unit."

"We have had broken promises from the HSE in the past.  In 2010 St Aidan's ward was closed as part of a cost saving measure with the loss of twenty five beds.  The ward was only to remain closed during the summer months.  To this date those twenty five beds are still out of action."

"I have submitted a parliamentary question through the office of Deputy Caoimhghín O' Caoláin asking the Minister for Health can he guarantee that operating theatre 2 will be reopened at the end of this eleven week period, regardless of budget cuts.  In the meantime protests will continue outside the grounds of Wexford General Hospital at 1.30pm every Saturday afternoon until our theatre is reopened."

Home Help cuts go deep - O' Súilleabháin

Cuts to home help services will see almost 1,000,000 hours being withdrawn from the system over a twelve month period according to Sinn Féin.  Local party spokesperson Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said the government had set their sights on the elderly who they now intended to bleed dry.  He added that these cuts would go deep and have far reaching consequences for our society.

"Cuts to home help and home care packages will go deep," Mr O' Súilleabháin said.  "What does the government intend the elderly and sick to do as they remove home help services while simultaneously reducing available beds in public nursing homes? The result of burning a candle at both ends is you end up with no candle."

" The latest Government cuts to Home Help and Home Care Packages will see almost 1,000,000 hours withdrawn from the system over a twelve month period.  These services play an integral role in our society, allowing people to live with dignity in their own homes and easing pressure on hospitals who without these services would face the addition of thousands of acute in-patients."

"Sinn Féin brought a private members motion before the Dail last Tuesday in an effort to halt these regressive cuts.  Unfortunately the government ignored our plea as Fine Gael and Labour reps spoke in favour of the very cruellest cuts to elderly citizens."

"Minister Reilly must make good on Fine Gaels programme for government promise to protect the elderly by reversing the cuts already made and abandoning proposals to introduce further cuts in the budget.  If these cuts are allowed to stand the consequences on our society will be far reaching and damning."

Fuel tax letters are a worry to under pressure families - O' Súilleabháin

A spokesperson for local Sinn Féin has warned of the dangers of cutting the fuel allowance to eligible families who were apparently over paid through no fault of their own last year.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that in a time when 10% of the population were living in food poverty and more than 200,000 Irish children were living before the poverty line even a seemingly insignificant cut could have a catastrophic knock on effect.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"A department of Social Protection error resulted in fuel allowance overpayments of €1.2 million made to about 60,000 Jobseeker claimants last winter. These payments were in no way the fault of the claimants who would have been confused over entitlements due to cuts to the scheme introduced last year.  Now the department is recovering this money by deferring this year’s payment to these claimants by one week."

"This move will mean that 60,000 families will miss an entitlement that they believed was coming.  It may seem like an insignificant cut to some people, but to many such a cut could have a catastrophic knock on effect."

"There is a crisis in Ireland today and even the smallest alteration in a person's weekly income can have dire consequences.  It's now estimated that 10% of the population are living in food poverty.  Up to 200,000 Irish children are living below the poverty line and it has been predicted that half the population will be living in fuel poverty in the next five years unless preventative measures are taken now."

"It is a dangerous time to punish people at the very brink of survival for a mistake that was made by the Department.  This will be a real cause of worry for many families across this state.  I would ask that the recuperation of the departments losses be deferred to a later date when families are in a better position to handle the effects."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Home help is saving the tax payer millions - Mythen

An Enniscorthy Town Councillor has branded the €8 million of cuts to home help hours and up to €1.7 million in cuts to home care packages as economic madness. Cllr Johnny Mythen said the cuts made no economic sense as they would put huge pressure on the already struggling health service.

“Apart from the essential and obvious benefits that home helpers bring to the elderly, they also save the Government millions of euro a week, never mind a year. According to the H.S.E.s own figures it costs €800/€900 per overnight stay in a hospital or other Permanent accommodation.”

“The people who provide home help only get the minimum wage for a few hours a week. Hospitals all over the country are clogging up. They cannot discharge elderly patients because they have no means of looking after themselves without their home assistants.”

“Last week we had sixteen such cases in Wexford General Hospital alone. That is at a cost of €89600 per wk. This week in the Dail we had €8 million cuts in home help hours and €1.7 million in home care packages. These cuts are uneconomical, will cause untold hardship to our older generation, and will cause more people to join the unemployment list.”

"That's some savings alright"

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kelly welcomes call for Border Poll

Cllr Anthony Kelly has welcomed Sinn Fein’s call for a border poll following on from the announcement that a date has been set for a similar event in Scotland. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the British and Irish governments agreed that at some stage in the future a poll would be held to determine the future of Ireland’s six northern counties.

Cllr Kelly said;

“The Sinn Féin call for a border poll on our island following on from the historic announcement of a similar poll in Scotland is to be welcomed. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement it was accepted that such a poll would take place in the near future to determine the future of Ireland’s six northern counties. The time has now come for this poll to happen.”

“The Irish government should now prepare a green paper on Irish unity and get ready for a border poll. Such a poll has been guaranteed under the framework of the peace process and cannot be ignored.”

“Sinn Féin believes that uniting Ireland makes sense. There is absolutely no sense in an island this size having two authorities, two sets of ministers, two health services and so on. The invisible border that has divided our island for nine decades has caused as much economic strife as it has political. Unification will be good for the economy of the island of Ireland.”

Sinn Féin renew call for second bridge in New Ross

Following the flooding of O’ Hanrahan Bridge last Wednesday and the severe traffic mayhem which it caused, New Ross Sinn Féin has renewed their call for the construction of a second bridge in the town. Local spokesperson Oisin O’ Connell said that New Ross town’s reputation as a bottleneck and its continuing problems with traffic congestion was impacting on investment coming into the town.

Mr O’ Connell said;

"New Ross town has had a big problem with traffic congestion for many years now. It is a situation that has been ignored by successive governments. During the boom years the town witnessed regular tail backs entering the O' Hanrahan Bridge from the Rosbercon side. Intelligent proposals to tackle this problem were made but sadly ignored."

“In 2002 local Sinn Féin proposed the construction of a second bridge over the Barrow at Marshmeadows. While other local politicians have campaigned for the construction of a second bridge five miles outside New Ross, which would bring few benefits to those living and trading in the town, Sinn Féin has consistently called for the a second bridge to be positioned at the Marshmeadows site.”

"Last month during the National Ploughing Championships, New Ross was brought to a standstill as a super-tailback developed. Traffic approaching New Ross was blocked up all the way back to Ferrybank in Waterford. It took a monumental effort by the Gardaí and members of the National Ploughing Association to free the flow of traffic.”

"This constant inability to deal with traffic problems is having an adverse affect on our town and is preventing much needed investment from coming in. The time has come to revisit the proposition of construction of a second bridge in New Ross, located at Marshmeadows."

Enniscorthy town council call for the immediate release of republican prisoners

A motion calling for the immediate release of three republican prisoners being detained without trial in the six counties was passed at a meeting of Enniscorthy town council last Monday night. The motion was introduced by Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen who has welcomed the support of the council to uphold the human rights of Marian price, Gerry McGeogh and Martin Corey.

Cllr Mythen said;

“I praise the council for their courage and support in passing a motion for the immediate release of three republican prisoners interned on this Island. Marian Price was released on bail three times by the judiciary of Northern Ireland only to be rebuked by Owen Patterson. She was also given a full pardon by the English queen under the prerogative of mercy. Mr Patterson amazingly cannot find this document and claims his colleagues either lost it or it may have been shredded.”

“The particular document in question was witnessed by Cardinal O Fiaich himself. Marian is extremely ill and is very weak. This woman is a free person and should be allowed to spend what little time she has left with her own family and friends and not be allowed die in captivity in a British prison.”

Council reform is a missed opportunity - O' Súilleabháin

Minister Phil Hogan's plan to reform local government does not go far enough according to the local branch of Sinn Féin. Local spokesperson Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that the Minister would have served the tax payer better by restructuring local government to allow devolution of more powers to local authorities and local communities instead of cutting the amount of democratically elected representatives.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"This so called reform is a missed opportunity. The programme for government contains a promise to implement 'reorganisation of local governance structure to allow for devolution of much greater decision making to local people’. This was the governments chance to place much more responsibility on local councils, making them accountable for water, waste management, transport, planning and economic development."

"As it stands a constituency relies upon strong representation from its TDs to get anything moving in its area. Unfortunately that is something we have lacked for many years now. That is why we have the strategically important port of Rosslare Harbour on its knees; why we have county based public transport reduced and why we can't keep operating theatre 2 opened at Wexford General Hospital. County Wexford has been downgraded over the years. Our councils have been made impotent and this plan does little to change that."

"Under the Ministers plan council seats will be reduced by 1,667 to 950. In Wexford we will likely lose our four town councils. This means less representation and can only be judged as an erosion of democracy. This plan completely fails to meet the devolution of powers promise in the programme for government and instead acts to centralise power in Dublin."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saltmills Commemoration 2012

An annual commemoration to mark an event that resulted in the greatest number of casualties in the war of independence in County Wexford was held in Saltmills earlier today.  Cllr Anthony Kelly was the main speaker at the ceremony.

On the twelfth of October, 1920, an IRA unit were preparing explosives in an old unoccupied house located at St. Kearns, Saltmills in South Wexford.  Five men were killed when the explosives detonated prematurely.  They were survived by nine comrades.

Every year local Sinn Féin mark this occasion, remembering the past and honouring those who gave all for the struggle while also looking to the future.  What would those men and women of the 1916-1923 period have thought of political parties that support mass austerity against struggling families, the paying out of unsecured bondholders while hospital operating theatres are closed and the handing over of our economic sovereignty to the Troika without even a fight?

The struggle continues....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Double standards government endangering Wexford health service – O’ Súilleabháin

A spokesperson for local Sinn Féin has accused the Fine Gael/Labour government of practising double standards and, in doing so, endangering County Wexford’s health service.  Speaking at a protest in Gorey yesterday, Fionntán O’ Súilleabháin condemned health budget restrictions which had led to the closure of operating theatre 2 at Wexford General Hospital.

“The closure of operating theatre 2 at Wexford General Hospital is an extremely regressive step even if we are to take the governments word that the full services will be resumed in eleven weeks,” Mr O’ Súilleabháin said.  “Local Labour and Fine Gael reps marched with thousands of Wexford people during a mass protest against threatened Fianna Fail enforced downgrading of services at Wexford General in 2010.  This week they have been extremely quite with one local Fine Gael rep refusing to condemn the loss of services, preferring instead to describe it as ‘unfortunate’.”

“Yes it is unfortunate.  It’s unfortunate that this government has broken its promises to protect and promote Wexford General Hospital.  It’s unfortunate that only last week they were able to rubberstamp the handing over of €1 billion to an unsecured bondholder but this week are forced to close a local operating theatre to save money.  The government is practising blatant double standards, with one rule for bondholders and another for Ireland’s sick.”

“Operating theatre 2 should be reopened immediately and assurances should be given that there will be no downgrading of services at Wexford General Hospital.  There is no point saying that nothing can be done.  Politics is all about choices and its time that this government began to choose the welfare of the Irish people instead of vested interests in the EU and unguaranteed bondholders.”

Wexford demands immediate reopening of operating theatre 2

Protestors gathered outside the grounds of Wexford General Hospital today to demonstrate against the closure of an operating theatre inside.  Speaking at the event, Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly called on Minister James O' Reilly to immediately reverse this decision by removing tight budget restrictions.

Cllr Kelly said;

"The strength of this protest and the feelings of shock and outrage being expressed by Wexford people since they found out about the closure of operating theatre 2 last Monday shows the level of opposition to this closure.  Local government reps cannot cover this up by calling it a temporary cost saving measure or anything else.  Call it what it is - downgrading."

"This closure will impact on Wexford people.  One hundred and forty three operations will be postponed over the coming weeks.  They may not be life threatening but they are certainly of great importance to those lingering on growing waiting lists.  And waiting lists won't go away.  Where will the funding come from to keep operating theatre 2 open next year when our health budget is to be cut again and waiting lists are now being increased due to this closure?"

"We are calling on Minister Reilly to remove the budget restrictions that are currently in effect and which are designed to bring in downgrading by necessity.  Our current health system cannot function on the new budgets imposed by the Minister.  Fine Gael and Labour both campaigned against Fianna Fail led downgrading of services at Wexford General two years ago. Now they are using the budget crisis that they created to excuse a spectacular 360 degree turn."

"There are real alternatives available.  It is inconceivable that hospitals like Wexford General should be downgraded when there are senior civil servants in this country who earn more than the Spanish Prime Minister.  The government cannot turn their back on this and claim they have no choices, and they cannot lay the blame on forces outside of their control.  There's no point blaming Fianna Fail, or the IMF, or hospital consultants when they are the ones in government."

"Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for the reopening of operating theatre 2 and the guarantee of no future downgrading at Wexford General Hospital.  Petitions will available across Wexford over the coming weeks." 

"I would urge people who value the services provided by our local hospital to sign the petition and send a very clear message to Minister Reilly.  This is not Sinn Féin's hospital or the Labour party's hospital or Fine Gaels hospital; it's your hospital.  It's time to get out and fight for it."
Photos by Les Dunne

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hospital protest must be kept focused – Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has called upon individuals and groups attending this Saturdays protest against the closure of operating theatre 2 at Wexford General Hospital to keep the focus of the event on the loss of services at the hospital. Cllr Kelly admitted that people were angry over an array of issues at the moment but insisted that this protest was solely about trying to get the decision to close operating theatre 2 reversed.

Cllr Kelly said;

“While we acknowledge that all the effects of government cuts are interconnected, Sinn Féin would ask people to keep focused on the issue at the heart of this protest – the closure of operating theatre 2. We don’t want the very serious events unfolding at Wexford General Hospital to be swallowed up by the many other issues facing people this Saturday.”

“I am involved in several campaigns at the moment but I will not be bringing these issues into this protest on Saturday. I would ask others to do the same. All are welcome at this protest but please try to keep banners and placards relevant to the hospital and the closure of operating theatre 2. This is about getting the decision to close the theatre reversed.”

Cllr Kelly also called on people attending the march to be respectful of patients and visitors in the hospital.

“This protest will be dignified. We can send a very clear message to the government and Minister Reilly that the people of Wexford will not accept any downgrading of Wexford General without infringing on the patients or visitors entering the hospital. I would ask everyone attending to be respectful to patients inside the hospital.”

The protest against the closure of operating theatre 2 will be held outside the hospital grounds on Saturday afternoon. Those attending are asked to meet by the traffic lights at the entrance to the hospital slip-road at 1:30pm.

Sinn Féin jobs plan supports Entrepreneurs - O' Súilleabháin

A Sinn Féin plan would make it far easier for Irish entrepreneurs to start up and prosper according to local rep Fionntán O' Súilleabháin. The new jobs plan which was launched today calls for restrictions that hold back entrepreneurs to be lifted and for greater support networks to be set up.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"Irish people are nearly twice as likely to set up their own business as their European counterparts despite the fact that the state puts a number of obstacles in their way. The lack of protection for those whose businesses fail, the difficulty in accessing start up finance and the lack of support in dealing with matters such as regulatory compliance and business management deter many people from becoming entrepreneurs."

"Sinn Féins new jobs document launched last week puts forward several key ideas to deal with these problems and to make it far easier for Irish entrepreneurs to start up and prosper. The new businesses they start will be the basis of a whole new economy."

"An improved social security insurance system must be introduced. Self employed people should be given the option of paying PRSI at the same level as PAYE workers in order to receive the same entitlements in the event that they become unemployed. Many people who were self employed and are now out of work say they will never set up on their own again for this very reason. It's an fundamental issue that needs to be addressed."

"Sinn Féin is also suggesting the launch of a state-wide entrepreneurship programme, the establishment of a website that would allow entrepreneurs to market their ideas and seek venture capital funding online and the creation of a state run or co-op service to provide new start ups with tax preparation, payroll and legal services, accounting, preparation of business proposals for requests for capital and regulatory compliance services for a fee. This would greatly reduce the costs of doing business."

"Sinn Féin is also calling for the auditing of all NAMA held property to find and utilise any units suitable for the purpose of new businesses. This, like the other proposals, would make social as well as economic sense. The promotion of entrepreneurs would create new business and employment, stabilise our local economy and stop the flow of young people out of this country."

Investing in Ireland's future - Create Jobs Create growth can be read in full at

Why was Wexford only awarded one Herring license - O' Connell

The failure of the government to award Wexford fishermen more than one herring license illustrates the unfairness and mismanagement of this state's fisheries, according to the Chairman of County Wexford Sinn Féin. Oisin O' Connell said that both this and the previous governments attitudes towards Irish Fishing were a disgrace and had helped run a profitable business into the ground.

Mr O' Connell said;

"The coastlines of Counties Wexford and Waterford are renown as great Herring fishing grounds. However this year these counties were each only awarded one license for fishing herrings. County Cork has been awarded ten licenses."

"This is another example of how under represented the fishermen of County Wexford are. Last week we had a Kilmore Quay fisherman threatened with arrest for refusing to dump over quota fish into the ocean. Fishing communities are being prosecuted for attempting to earn their living while unsecured bondholders and bankers hold the country to ransom with impunity."

"It is worth noting that County Cork is home to thirteen government TDs, including the Minister for Agriculture. It is also home to the leader of Fianna Fail. Is it possible that Cork Fishermen had more influence than our own? If so why what have our local TDs been doing? It's clear they have not been representing our fishermen."

"The Irish fishing industry has been greatly damaged since we entered the EEC in 1973. Local knowledge and skills have been restricted by red tape from Brussels. Its time this tape was cut and local fishermen were allowed the opportunity to make a decent livelihood."

Kelly welcomes Rosslare Europort Development Plan

Cllr Anthony Kelly has welcomed the addition of proposals regarding the development of Rosslare Europort in Sinn Féin's Jobs Plan which was launched in Dublin earlier today. Cllr Kelly, who has campaigned for the development of the harbour, said the proposed €50 million deepening of one berth at Rosslare would create jobs, stem emigration and stimulate the local economy.

Cllr Kelly said;

“The inclusion of a proposal to deepen one of the berths at Rosslare Europort in the "Investing in Ireland's future - Create Jobs Create growth” document is a positive development and proof that Sinn Féin is the only party campaigning for a stimulus for County Wexford. This proposal would create immediate and long term employment, safe guard the future of a port that has been underuse in recent years, stimulate the local economy across the south east and stem the rising tide of emigration.”

“Despite the neglect of Rosslare by successive Irish governments, trade has actually increased through the port in recent years. Since 2007, continental corridor traffic has increased by 15%, seeing 230,000 continental corridor passengers pass through the port in 2010. Freight has increased from 20,000 units in 2007 to 26,000 units in 2010.”

“Rosslare is currently the second biggest passenger port and second biggest RoRo freight port in the state. An Irish Ports Association report revealed that ferry based tourism through Rosslare Europort in 2004 was worth €550 million to the Irish economy and supported over 5000 jobs.”

“There is a necessity for the extension and deepening of the port so as to have increased capacity for when the economic recovery kicks in. Currently the port has 7.2 metres of water. Sinn Féin is proposing deepening one of the berths to 9 metres. This proposal would be in line with Article 6 of the Habitats Directive, be in compliance with the Water Framework Directive and the Programme of Measures contained in the South Eastern River Basin Management Plan (2009-2015) and ensures the protection of the Wexford Harbour Outer Shellfish Area.”

“The deepening of the port would allow larger freight to use Rosslare and increase the already high levels of traffic coming through. To further aid this, a rail cargo depot could be built at the harbour which would facilitate the logistics business and help divert heavy traffic from the public road network. It could in turn lead to the reopening of the Rosslare to Waterford Rail line. All this would create employment.”

“Rosslare Europort should be developed as a gateway for tourism into the south east.  The promotion of County Wexford and the wider south east as a tourist destination, particularly for the British and continental European market would create further employment, provide vital reinvigoration for the struggling South Wexford retail industry and further make use of a reopened Rosslare to Waterford Rail line.”

NAMA is biggest stitch up since the treaty - Mythen

An Enniscorthy town councillor has said that NAMA is the biggest stitch up since the Anglo Irish Treaty after it emerged that the former head of lending at NAMA had recently become a partner in a company that had moved to successfully purchase a NAMA held property. Cllr Mythen said that the whole episode displayed again that the golden circle is still operating.

“This whole episode displays again to the Irish people that the golden circle are still operating and gaining millions, while the country is on its knees. Minister Noonan's cry in the Dail that N.A.M.A. workers are subject to the official secrets act is again an attempt to wallpaper over the real truth.”

“Graham Emmett, a former head of loan sales in NAMA, claims that the deal for a very lucrative piece of property was completed before he was registered as an employee on the books of the purchasing company involved. That being the case, we hope that minister Noonan will be a little more vigilant in the future and make sure that no one will get a second bite of the cherry because that would be a genuine matter of state secrets and inside trading.”

"NAMA is the biggest stitch up in Irish history since the treaty. It's high time that NAMAs transactions were made far more transparent and that the organisation began to work for the benefit of the taxpayers in whose name it was set up."

Government are trying to cover up CAP cuts - O' Connell

The Chairman of County Wexford Sinn Féin has accused the government of trying to cover up impending cuts contained in the upcoming reform of the EU Common Agriculture Policy. Oisin O' Connell said that proposals being pushed by EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos could see farming payments being cut for farmers across the state.

Mr O' Connell said;

"Irelands economic recovery will depend in part on having a strong sustainable agricultural sector. At the moment farmers are feeling the pinch as much as anyone. Cuts in the past few years to agri grants have been disproportionately high. This summer was one of the worst on record and has left feeding particularly expensive. Agri diesel has increased by 54% in the last two years."

"CAP reform proposals being pushed by Commissioner Ciolos could see the cutting of vital farm payments for tens of thousands of Irish farmers as well as a reduction in rural development funding. Such cuts would be devastating for Irish farming and would directly result in more families being forced off the land."

"The Minister for Agriculture is well aware of the effects that this 'reform' could have on Irish farming. He and his government are engaged in an elaborate attempt to cover up the seriousness of these cuts, giving farmers a false sense of security and taking the pressure off themselves as they prepare for what could be the poison chalice of EU Presidency next year."

“Sinn Féin has outlined a series of proposals on CAP reform. These range from how funding should be distributed fairly to all farmers to how best we can use the functions of CAP to encourage as many young people, and new entrants, to become involved in agriculture as possible. If given the necessary supports, farming has the potential to provide a serious level of stimulus to this state.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kelly calls protest against closure of Wexford operating theatre

Cllr Anthony Kelly has invited the people of Wexford to support a protest against the closure of operating theatre 2 outside of Wexford General Hospital this coming Saturday. The Sinn Féin rep said is calling on County Wexford’s oireachtas members to immediately come out and call for this decision to be reversed.

Cllr Kelly said;

“A protest against the closure of operating theatre two will be held outside Wexford General Hospital on Saturday afternoon. I’m calling on the people of County Wexford, irrespective of their political beliefs, to come out and support this event.”

“The closure of this theatre is a clear act of downgrading of vital services at our hospital. The hospital management is not in any way to blame as they are subject to the restrictive budget laid down. With this the buck clearly stops with the Minister for Health.”

“Local people must stand up for their services. The Wexford people have never stood idly by while their hospital was endangered in the past and I know they won’t do so now.”

People attending the protest are asked to assemble by the traffic lights outside the grounds of Wexford General Hospital at 1.30pm on Saturday. All are welcome.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kelly calls for explanation over closure of Wexford Operating Theatre

Cllr Anthony Kelly has called on Minister Brendan Howlin to explain why an operating theatre in Wexford General Hospital is allegedly closing today.  The Sinn Féin rep, who has been contacted by many worried constituents over the weekend, said that the Minister needs to clarify exactly what is happening and to confirm that this is not an act of downgrading of crucial services at our county hospital.

Cllr Kelly said;

“Rumours are rife that operating theatre 2 at Wexford General Hospital will close today, Monday October 8th, for an undefined period.  Such a closure would be detrimental to services at our local hospital, putting both under pressure staff and patients in a dire position.”

"I am calling on Minister Brendan Howlin, a man who campaigned with myself and others against the threat of downgrading at Wexford General during the reign of the Fianna Fail government, to immediately come on local radio and clarify the situation.  People are worried and Sinn Féin believes the only way to quench these fears is for the Minister to guarantee that he is absolutely opposed to any form of downgrading at our local hospital and is resolved to stand against such measures."

"I would also renew my call on Minister Howlin to confirm that there will be adequate staff available to man the new A&E unit currently under construction at Wexford General when it opens."

"Sinn Féin has been at the forefront of the campaign to protect services at Wexford General Hospital for the last decade.  I have personally called upon the people of Wexford to take to the streets before in order to safeguard our hospital and I will have no hesitation in doing so again if the situation demands it."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

AIB mortgage hike adds insult to economic injury - O' Connell

A spokesperson for the local branch of Sinn Féin has criticised Allied Irish Banks decision to raise their interest rates on variable rate mortgages by 0.5%, just two days after the bank paid out €1 billion of taxpayers' money to an unsecured AIB bondholder. Oisin O' Connell, the Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin, said AIB and the coalition government were adding insult to economic injury by pretending that these two events were not related.

Mr O' Connell said;

"AIBs decision to raise their interest rates on variable rate mortgages by 0.5% will hit hard 70,000 households with mortgages in this state. It will cause a knock-on blow to the local economy, as more disposable income is sucked out of it. Nine hundred euros a year will be loaded onto the cost of a typical two hundred and fifty thousand mortgage."

"This rise came only two days after an unsecured, unguaranteed bondholder of AIB was paid €1 billion from our taxes. Before this year is out, we will pay €20 billion to bailout the bad gambles of European casino-capitalism. That is the figure for this year alone. All of this is being borne by the Irish people."

"AIB and the Fine Gael/Labour government are adding insult to economic injury by suggesting that these two events are not linked. Tens of thousands of Irish homes are in mortgage distress because our government and central bank have decided it would be better to allow banks to dictate our economic policy at the expense of our people and our economy."

"Sinn Féin has consistently called not only for the bad gambling debts of unsecured bondholders and broken banks to be burned, but for the government to bailout Irish citizens and the Irish economy instead. It's time the government asserted its influence over essentially state-owned institutions like Allied Irish Bank, and stop them making irresponsible decisions that hit hard our households - and what's left of our economy."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Kelly commends Kilmore Quay Fish Protest

Cllr Anthony Kelly has commended the crew of the Saltees Quest for the stand they took today against the ludicrous EU regulations regarding the discarding of fish caught that exceed quotas.  The Sinn Féin Cllr has called on the government to use Irelands coming presidency of the EU to revisit the Common Fisheries Policy, bringing the date forward for the total ban of discarding dead fish and easing highly restrictive quotas on Irish fishermen.

Cllr Kelly said;

"The stand taken by the crew of the Saltees Quest should be a commended.  It's a pity that Kilmore Quay fishermen have once again had to put themselves in the firing line as they are left with no one to represent them."

"The recent changes to the Common Fisheries Policy allowing for the phased out and eventual total banning of the process of discarding dead fish back into the sea while welcomed, was too little, too late.  A total ban won't come in for another six years and the changes made failed to deal with the core issue of extremely restrictive quotas.  In fact our monkfish quota has actually  been reduced."

"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." 

"Only the worst type of management would run such a profitable business into the ground and unfortunately the worst type of management we have had with an unbroken line of incompetent governments who have failed completely to represent the Irish fishing industry."

"Next year Ireland begins its presidency of the EU.  Our government must use this time to win a better deal for Irish fishing, beginning by bringing forward the date set for the total banning of the process of discarding, and crucially, deal with the core issue of highly restrictive quotas."

No justification for cutting children's allowance - O' Súilleabháin

The local branch of Sinn Féin is making its opposition to any cuts to the children's allowance in Budget 2013 known.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin has said that his party is opposed to any reduction to the benefit, stating that there is no justification for these cuts when there are clear alternatives available that will not impact so harshly on families.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"Children's allowance is a popular target for certain political parties and vested interests in this state.  It has already been cut in recent years by both the Fianna Fail/Green government and the current Fine Gael/Labour regime."

"A government advisory group has recommended a cut of €40 a month to the children's allowance.  Such a cut would have devastating consequences and should be openly and swiftly rejected by this government.  There are clear alternatives available to balance the books."

"Sinn Féin has consistently called on those who can afford to pay more to be made do so.  Some would say that there are families who can afford to do without the children's allowance but who is going to identify those people? There are people living in houses that were bought for half a million struggling to pay their electricity bills nowadays."

"Instead of cutting the children's allowance the government should go after the incomes of high earners.  A third income tax rate of 48% on income over and above €100,000 should be introduced.  A wealth tax of 1% on all assets in excess of €1 million, excluding working farmland, business assets, and the first 20% of value of primary residences worth in excess of €1 million should also be part of budget 2013.

"The introduction of a third tax band at 48% would bring in €365 million.  Our wealth tax would collect €800 million.  The return on the proposed cut in child benefit would return only €200 million.  Clearly these alternatives make economic as well as moral sense."

Ireland "caught up in a race to the bottom" - Mythen

Cllr Johnny Mythen has said that the decision to pay an unsecured bondholder €1 billion last week while emigration is at its highest level since records began highlights the fact that we are all caught in a race to the bottom. 

Cllr Mythen said;

"The tragic continuing payments to unsecured senior bondholders is simply draining.  It is draining away our jobs as unemployment continues to stand at 14.7%. It is draining away our young people as we saw 240 emigrating per day last year.  It is draining our domestic economy as hundreds of small businesses are going to the wall for want of a little capital."

"This week the banks Have taken one billion euro from Irish citizens to hand over to their private clients, and to add more salt to the wounds, they have increased interest rates in an already faltering and shrinking economy.  This is surely an unsustainable and delusional position for any government to follow."

"Our small Island nation, if it is to survive, must challenge the austerity policies of our own domestic government and those of the I.M.F.  The figures are not adding up.  We all are caught up in a race to the bottom fuelled extensively by the lack of regulation on these financial institutions and the unwillingness of the Irish government to challenge their counter parts in Europe for a fair deal for Ireland."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sinn Féin condemn payment of 1 billion euro to bondholders as "national treachery"

Speaking after a unsecured AIB Bondholder was paid €1 billion on Monday, North Wexford Sinn Féin spokesperson Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin said:

"Yesterday (Monday) the Fine Gael/Labour Government allowed another €1 BILLION of our money to be paid to unsecured bondholders - wealthy individuals and institutions who gambled and lost - thus penalising the Irish people and attacking our health and education and social welfare and housing and local government services. they have impoverished this nation and condemned this and future generations to mass unemployment and emigration. And in the face of this scandal what had Enda Kenny got to say for himself? He plays the old threadbare card "Gerry Adams was in the IRA" -a pathetic distraction. As if this would trump the national treachery for which Kenny and his cohorts are responsible. Its long past time that his party's local representatives raised their voices against this national treachery"