Saturday, June 29, 2013

Four out of five New Ross families directly affected by unemployment - O' Connell

Oisin O' Connell at the recent JFK festival in New Ross
Now is the time to harness the creative energy that made this year's JFK festival so successful and use it to put New Ross back to work, according to a local spokesperson for Sinn Féin.  Speaking at the event last week Oisin O' Connell said that a new survey commissioned by his party showed the true devastation caused by unemployment in the New Ross district with 60% of those questioned stating that  member of their immediate family has either been forced to emigrate or is planning to in the near future.

"The JFK festival showed what New Ross is capable of delivering," Mr O' Connell said.  "Unfortunately behind the glamour and prestige of what was a hugely successful event lies a world in which four out of five local families have been directly affected by the unemployment crisis.  We need to get this town and district working again, and to do that we need the show the same spirit of innovation and creativity that was evident in the planning and execution of this year's JFK festival."

"In the last couple of months New Ross Sinn Féin has been compiling a Employment and Emigration Survey in order to better understand that effects of the recession on this district.  Now the results are in and they make for grim reading.  78% of those surveyed answered yes when asked if either themselves or a family member was currently unemployed.  Of those that were out of work, 71% stated that they were unemployed for more than one year."

"60% of those questioned stated that a member of their immediate family had either been forced to emigrate or was thinking of doing so in the near future.  The most compelling statistic came from asking those surveyed were they satisfied with the governments action to tackle unemployment.  93% answered no.  81% said that they government needed to introduce a realistic job creation programme immediately to kick start our economy."

"We also surveyed several businesses in the New Ross area and found that there was unanimous support among them for changes to be made to the current PRSI rules to create a safety net for the self employed."

"New Ross will recover from this recession.  We will get our unemployed back to work and we will create the conditions for businesses within this district to flourish once again, but to do this we need help.  The government must put the money earmarked in the NPRF for job creation to proper and efficient use."

Employment and Emigration Survey

Commissioned by New Ross Sinn Féin and carried out in New Ross town and surrounding district during May/June 2013.

Are you or any member of your family unemployed?
Yes - 78%
No - 22%

If yes, for how long?
Less than 12 months - 29%
More than 12 months - 71%

 Has a member of your immediate family been forced to emigrate or is thinking about doing so in the near future?
Yes - 60%
No - 40%

If yes to question 3, where have they or are they planning to emigrate to?
Australia - 34%
Canada - 19%
USA - 15%
UK - 28%
other - 4%

Are you satisfied with government action to tackle unemployment?
Yes - 7%
No - 93%

Should the government have a job stimulus programme to kick start the economy and create jobs?
Yes - 81%
No - 19%

SNA U-Turn is deliberately misleading - Kelly

A government U-Turn brought about by the public's outraged reaction to the recent loss of services in special needs education is deliberately misleading according to one Wexford Councillor.  Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly said that while he welcomed the allocation of 500 new teaching posts to help cope with the record number of children needing support in the education system from September, it simply wasn't enough and would provide little comfort for schools like Scoil Mhuire in Wexford town who will now lose 2.5 SNAs.

Cllr Kelly said;

"Sinn Féin called on this government to reverse the stealth cuts to SNA hours.  While we welcome their decision to back down and allocate 500 new teaching posts to help deal with an influx of new children needing support into the education system this September, it is still not enough.  "

"Government spokespeople have made much of the fact that more than 42,500 students will need additional help from this September, a rise of over 4000.  22,000 pupils will also need support from special needs assistants.  The Ministers U-Turn does not provide for these children who will in a lot of cases lose access to SNA services as they stood this year." 

"Scoil Mhuire in Wexford town will once again be on the receiving end of these cuts.  They will lose 2.5 SNAs.  Clearly the Ministers U-Turn is worthless to the children and parents who rely so heavily on these valued services in Scoil Mhuire."

"What the Government  seem to forget is everyone knew record numbers of children needing extra assistance would be entering the system next year.  It should not have come as a surprise to our Department of Education and our government who seem to have been blissfully unaware of what was going on.  If they cannot manage this state efficiently, maybe it's time they moved out of the way and let other people try to represent the best interests of the Irish people."

New Ross farmers need access to emergency funding now - O' Connell

After being approached by several members of the farming community in New Ross district over the past few weeks, local Sinn Féin spokesperson Oisin O' Connell is calling on the government to give emergency financial assistance to farms affected by the fodder shortage crisis.  O' Connell stressed the importance of farming to the local economy in New Ross and urged our TDs to act now before we witnessed an onslaught of farm closures across the district.

Mr O' Connell said;

"The steps taken by Minister Coveney to tackle the recent fodder crisis in the short-term while welcome have not touched on the more long term ramifications of this problem.  New Ross farmers were already struggling before this crisis.  Now many are faced with extreme cash flow problems as they attempt to get fodder stocked and ready for next winter."

"Our local economy relies heavily on agriculture.  Studies have proven this.  For example, for every €100 of agriculture output there is a further €73 of output to the wider economy.  This money goes into local shops, pubs and other businesses.  Nationally farming families spend €8 billion per year in the economy."

"Sinn Féin is calling on the government to access immediate financial aid from the EU crisis fund so that this issue can be met head on.  We are also urging Minister Coveney to secure a 70% advance on the Single Farm payment from October 15th next.  We cannot afford to see an onslaught of farm closures across this district so it is imperative that local TDs and reps petition their government to move quickly to prevent another economic disaster in our area."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Protest over shameful SNA cuts

Local teacher and Sinn Féin spokesperson Fionntán Ó Suilleabhain has described as "shameful the government decision to a impose a 25% cut to SNA's for primary school children with disabilities." I would encourage those concerned about this disgraceful cut to attend Wednesdays protest in Dublin and to ring their local Fine Gael and Labour politician.
These people, drunk on power, have really reached a new low and have lost all touch with reality. They are seemingly unaware of the impact this will have in a primary school and on the families concerned" he said.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the level of the cuts was signed off by Ruairi Quinn’s department three weeks ago, but officials ordered no details be made public until this week, right before schools close for the summer (and a week after teachers voted in favour of The Haddington Road agreement)

Back to School Clothing & Footware Allowance Applications Now Due

Sinn Féin North Wexford representative and local school teacher Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin  has urged qualifying parents to apply for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. Applications are being accepted by the Department of Social Protection from June 14th. Ó Súilleabháin has also hit out at Minister Joan Burton’s cut to this years allowance.

Ó Súilleabháin said:

“In last years budget Labour Minister Joan Burton cut the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. Most of Wexfords  TDs voted for this cut.

“This year the payment is reduced from €250 to €200 for children aged between 12 and 17 or 18-22 in full-time education, The payment to children between 4 and 11 is down from €150 to €100.

“When making the cut Minister Burton controversially told parents that ‘there is a lot of good value in shops in relation to clothing and footwear’.

“Given that Minister Burton gets an annual salary of over €169,000 I doubt she has any idea of the impact her cuts will have on hard pressed families this summer.

“The scheme has now opened for 2013. If you received the Allowance last year and your circumstances have not changed you should have received a letter stating when and how your allowance will be paid.

“If you did not receive an automatic payment this year, you should make an application for the Allowance as soon as possible.

“If you are in receipt of a social welfare payment including FIS or taking part in an approved employment scheme such as JobBridge and Tús you could be eligible.

“I would advise anyone in doubt to contact their local social welfare office immediately.

“I would also call on the Minister for Social Projection Joan Burton and her colleagues such as Brendan Howlin and also Paul Kehoe and Michael D'Arcy to realise the hardship they are imposing on low income families and reverse this appalling cut in the forthcoming budget.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

High speed broadband would bring jobs to New Ross - O' Connell

The roll out of super fast broadband in New Ross town and the surrounding areas would bring jobs and prosperity, and is long overdue according to a spokesperson for local Sinn Féin.  Oisin O' Connell said that a report by the EU Commission last week placing Ireland in 27th position out of 31 states measured for access to superfast broadband is proof that not enough is being done to develop our network.

Mr O' Connell said;

"It has been proven time and again that faster broadband and particularly fibre optic networks are the lifeblood of economies in the digital age in which we live.  A recent study by the World Bank stated that for every 10% increase in penetrations of broadband services, there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3%.  This works out as a rise of 0.1- 1.4% in GDP growth.  To be more specific, it means new companies and new jobs, more money floating around in our towns and villages, less people out of work, the end of the terrible tide of emigration and what can only be described as economic salvation."

"So why is our government not busy introducing superfast broadband to New Ross now? Why are our local councillors not demanding that it be introduced immediately?"

"A study by the EU Commission last week shows that Ireland is well behind other EU states in the roll out of faster broadband.  This obviously gives those states an economic advantage over us.  The EU has set a target for all citizens across the union to have full access to superfast broadband by 2020.  The way things are going we will not reach that target."

"Sinn Féin has demanded that the government invest €2.5 billion into the development of next generation superfast broadband right across this state.  We have argued that existing state enterprises such as Bord Gáis and the ESB could be used to develop a new superfast network, and in doing so, create thousands of jobs as this network is rolled out.  If we are to recover and develop then our local politicians must learn the benefits of embracing the provision of faster broadband very quickly."

Cllr. Mythen compliments the Government for adopting and implementing Sinn Fein's economic policies

Enniscorthy Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen has welcomed the government's recent decision to allocate what is left in the National Pension Reserve Fund for job creation and said that it represented a late but very welcomed government endorsement of his own party's economic policies.  Cllr Mythen said it was just a pity that it took the government two and  half years to realise that Sinn Féins call for stimulus instead of austerity was right all along.

Cllr Mythen said;

"The action to use the reserve pension fund to stimulate jobs and growth represents an endorsement of Sinn Fein's economic plan.  Sinn Fein put forward a rational and practical plan to counteract austerity.  This plan was fully costed by the department of finance." 

"Our plan was ridiculed by the three main parties, whom are quiet happy to follow religiously the path of the troika leading to austerity measures that are being dished out like aspirin at a local chemist shop but are clearly not curing our economic headaches.  For example we currently still have 15% unemployment which equates to 25% if you factor in emigration.  We have a debt ratio to GDP increasing on a rapid scale.  The private investment sector have lost confidence while our local and small businesses are on their knees."

"It is on these grounds Sinn Fein welcomes with open arms the release of the reserve pension fund to at least start the recovery through jobs and growth.  We have already lost one whole generation of Irish people, let us not lose another to what is a very bad economic idea that is ruining Ireland and Europe on a scale that hasn't been seen since the nineteen thirties.

Special needs children should not be targets of austerity - Kelly

A Wexford Councillor has accused the government of attempting to sneak in a devastating 25% cut to education spending for children with special needs.  Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly said that there can be no justification for subjecting these children and their families to the sheer hardship that these cuts will cause.

 Cllr Kelly said;

"The announcement of this year's allocation of resource teachers and special needs assistants for the 2013/2014 school year by the National Council for Special Education revealed the government's plan to inflict a 25% cut on education spending for children with special needs.  No amount of spin or propaganda can hide what is essentially one of the cruellest cuts we have seen from this administration."

"Among the schools affected by these cuts will be Scoil Mhuire in Wexford town.  The parents there have campaigned long and hard to prevent further cuts to their children's education following a devastating cut in 2011.  Unfortunately this government has been deaf to their often emotive pleas."

"These cuts will mean that large schools with 20 or more special needs pupils will lose one of their four special needs teachers.  Teaching time will be cut by a quarter. As well as this, autistic children who had been entitled to five hours support teaching a week will only get 3.75 hours now."

"Families who are entitled to the July provision with more than one special needs child will see their allocation shared.  Where these children would once have each been entitled to 40 hours special needs education and coaching during the month of July, these 40 hours will now be divided between siblings."

"It is simply wrong that our government avoids looking at progressive revenue raising measures such as the introduction of a wealth tax or a third band of income tax for those earning over €100,000 per annum and instead target the most vulnerable time and time again."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sinn Féin slams deputies Howlin and Kehoe over Property Tax vote

Sinn Féin spokesperson in North Wexford, fionntán Ó Súillerabháin has slammed local politicians for voting down his partys bill in Leinster House during the week which if successful would have seen the governments property tax replaced by a wealth tax. He was speaking at a packed Sinn Féin function in the Fowler bar, Gorey on Friday night.
"This week Labours Brendan Howlin, Fine Gaels Paul Kehoe and their party colleagues voted against Sinn Féins Property Tax Repeal Bill which would have seen the hated home tax abolished and replaced by a wealth tax. This is despite the Labour party having challenged our party to come up with an alternative to the hated home tax.
The rich should be asked to pay more. Let us take Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary. Michael’s country manor in Co Westmeath, is reported to be valued between €150 - €200,000, this makes poor Michael liable pay €157 for this year.
The Sunday Times in October 2012 valued his net worth at €418.73 million making him the 20th richest person in Ireland. But he will be paying the same home tax as a pensioner, lone parent or someone on disability.
“The property tax, be it from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or Labour punishes everyone equally, but those on lower income feel the pain a lot more that the super-rich like Michael O’Leary. That is why we have been gathering signatures for our proposal across County Wexford in recent weeks, postering and encouraging constituents to lobby their local politicians.
Sinn Féin has consistently argued for the introduction of a wealth tax. We believe that a 1% tax on net assets in excess of €1 million has the potential to yield up to €800 million. This is a real alternative to the unjust tax and we have committed that if we are in government after the next election we will repeal this tax"

EU-Canada Trade deal cannot be allowed to destroy Irish Beef Farming - O' Connell

A trade deal between the EU and Canada which is expected to be signed off on at the G8 summit later this month has the potential to seriously damage Irish beef farming according to a New Ross farmer.  Oisin O' Connell, a local spokesperson for Sinn Féin, said that the government had an obligation to intervene and prevent Ireland from being flooded with Canadian beef.

Mr O' Connell said;

"It's expected that the EU and Canada will sign off on their new trade agreement at this month's G8 summit in Fermanagh.  Canada aims to export 80,000 to 100,000 tonnes of beef to the EU every year under the terms of the arrangement.  The EU has said that the maximum allowed in will be 40,000 terms.  Even this maximum set by the EU would cause serious harm to our nations beef industry and cannot be tolerated."

"Recent figures from the IFA suggest that the Irish cattle and sheep sectors support 100,000 farmers as well as 50,000 other jobs in the wider economy.  Farm families spend €8 billion per year in our economy.  It's vital that we safeguard what is an essential industry for our island state and prevent EU global politics from destroying the recent fine work carried out by groups like the Irish Cattle Breeders Federation and the IFA to build a better national bovine herd."

"Ireland is the fourth biggest beef producer in the world.  We produce eight times more beef than we can use and much of this is imported to our neighbours in the EU.  The last thing our beef sector needs is to see the market being flooded with Canadian imports.  This industry is worth €2 billion a year to the Irish economy so it's not just beef farmers who will suffer if this deal goes ahead."

We cannot afford to lose anymore SNAs in Wexford - Kelly

Speaking at the last meeting of Wexford Borough Council, Cllr Anthony Kelly called on the government to ensure that there will be no more cuts made to SNAs in Scoil Mhuire and other schools across the county.  The Sinn Féin rep said that he has been contacted by worried parents who fear that they will once again be the ones targeted for cuts as the NCSE review SNA services.

Cllr Kelly said;

"The ASD unit at Scoil Mhuire was opened in 2003 with an allocation of one to one SNA support for each pupil enrolled who had been diagnosed with autism.  57% of pupils were successfully integrated into mainstream classes due to the effectiveness of this programme.  The fact that the national average was 19% shows how successful this imitative was."

"The NCSE reviewed the unit in 2011 and identified diminished care needs in the children assessed and subsequently axed 6 SNA positions in the unit.  They did this despite the appeals of parents and teachers who stressed that this would have a detrimental impact on their children's education and integration.  The unit was reviewed again in 2012 but no cuts were made.  Now the unit is being reviewed for a third time and worried parents believe that further cuts could be imminent."

"Ironically the result of the review is due to be announced by the NCSE sometime this month around the time when the payment for respite is made. I know of parents that have lost €700 in the cut that was made to the respite grant in last Decembers budget.  Many families have told me they are waiting on the respite grant so they can pay their property tax.  It is unbelievable that families should have to live under this kind of stress and heartache brought about directly by the actions of our pro austerity government."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Irish martyrs remembered at Three Bullet Gate

A commemoration was held in New Ross town last night to honour the memory of all those who have lost their lives for Irish freedom during the struggle for national independence.  A group of local republicans gathered in the June sunshine at Three Bullet Gate, the sight of one of the most famous battles of the 1798 rising, to remember the sacrifices made by previous generations who sought to free Ireland.

Veteran Wexford republican and trade union activist Mick O' Leary laid a wreath on the night while local human rights campaigner Ger Barron spoke of the historical importance of the Battle of New Ross and the initial rebel victory at Three Bullet Gate.

At dawn on the 5th of June 1798 Irish rebels, who had advanced from their camp on Carrigbyrne hill, engaged the crown forces just outside of New Ross town.  The bloodiest battle of the rising had began.  The British, knowing the rebels were advancing south following the capture of Wexford town, had dug in and the 2000 strong garrison had fortified the town.

The rebels sent Matt Furlong under the flag of truce to attempt to negotiate the surrender of the town.  As he approached the British lines, Furlong was shot down by the defenders.  This infuriated the rebel army who were now determined to seize the town by force.

John Kelly from Killanne led an group of 500 rebels who attacked Three Bullet Gate, driving a herd of cattle in front of them in an effort to scatter the crown defenders.  The strategy worked and the gate fell to Kelly's men, who pushed on into the town.  Two other columns attacked Priory Gate and Market Gate. 

The rebels swept into the town and drove the crown forces back seizing two thirds of New Ross before an extreme shortage of gunpowder and ammunition slowed their advance.  This gave the British the chance to regroup and lead a counterattack.  Before noon the exhausted rebels were forced to withdraw from the town.  The battle was over and lost.  Up to 3000 rebels and 200 of the garrison had been killed during the fighting.

Property Tax should be repealed - Kelly

A local councillor is calling on County Wexford's five sitting TDs to support a motion calling for the repeal of the property tax which will be voted on in the Dail next week.  Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly has said that these TDs have a moral obligation to vote down the hated tax which has caused so much heartache for families across this county since its inception as the household charge in early 2012.

Cllr Kelly said;

"Next week Sinn Féin will use its speaking time in the Dail to put forward the Property Tax Repeal Bill 2013.  The aim of this bill is to have the property tax abolished and the undemocratic proposition of a home tax crushed once and for all."

"The government is gloating over the recent figures of those who have paid that property tax.  The vast majority of those who paid did so under extreme duress.  There is nothing to gloat about here.  The democratic will of the people was ignored as a lazy incompetent administration looked for the easiest revenue raising option and borrowed heavily from the infamous Fianna Fail 'four year plan' to bring us this hated tax."
"There were always other options available to the government.  The sensible alternatives such as a wealth tax or the introduction of a third rate of income tax for those earning over €100,000 were never investigated.  We are committed to overturning this tax and introducing these progressive measures.  If we are defeated, our councillors who will be elected in the 2014 locals are mandated to support the maximum reduction of 15% in the property tax.  This fight is not over yet."

Expansion of WIT should directly benefit New Ross - Sinn Féin

The chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin has welcomed the news that Waterford Institute of Technology is to be designated a technological university for the South East.  Oisin O' Connell said that now would be the perfect time to develop a proper WIT campus in New Ross which would revitalise the town by making it a student centre.

Mr O' Connell said;

"As far back as ten years ago local Sinn Féin were petitioning the government to set up a third level campus in New Ross town.  At the time we believed that the creation of a Wexford third level institute was imminent.  Unfortunately for the county that never came about.  Today we have a new opportunity to revitalise New Ross town as a student centre."

"Last week we learned that WIT is to be designated a technological university for the south east.  Its long been argued that the south east has been unfairly overlooked as a possible location for a university.  The lack of such a facility has adversely affected our local economy as many students moved away to get a third level education."

"This announcement will no doubt benefit all of the south east but Waterford will certainly reap the rewards directly.  It is now essential that local representatives petition the Minister of Education to spread out this new development and establish at least some facilities on a campus in New Ross.  This would be a great boost for our town and our young people."