Munster outlines Sinn Féin’s plans to reduce cost of childcare for working families

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has outlined her party’s plans to address the crisis in the childcare sector. At present, childcare is unaffordable for many parents, despite the fact that workers in the sector are underpaid.

Deputy Munster said:

“There is a crisis in the Early Years sector.

“Early Years professionals deserve to be paid a decent wage in financially sustainable services. 

“Parents deserve a high quality, affordable childcare service that to look after their children. At the moment childcare is as expensive as a second mortgage for many families. This is a totally unsustainable situation.

“Sinn Féin has a fully costed childcare plan which we would see us reducing the cost of childcare by an average of €500 per month per child in government.

“We would cap and reduce fees whilst increase funding for the sector. We would also ensure improved pay and conditions for childcare staff.

“We would also extend paid maternity leave to 52 weeks, and increase maternity benefit by €50, to ensure that every child can be looked after by a parent in their first year of life, should that be the wish of the parents.

 “SIPTU/Big Start, the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, the Association of Childhood Professionals, the National Community Childcare Forum and the National Childhood Network have convened an ‘Early Years Alliance’ to highlight the crisis in the sector and demand increased funding in the sector, better pay and recognition the profession deserves. 

“Sinn Féin is fully behind this initiative. We recognise the need to support workers in the sector. We also understand the pressures that working parents are under, and we want to ease that burden to make childcare more affordable, and to ensure a high-quality childcare service across the state.  

Adams ‘emotional’ at stepping back as TD for Louth

Former Louth TD Gerry Adams has confessed to being “emotional” at the prospect of stepping back as a TD for Louth.

Gerry Adams was addressing a party meeting in Dundalk where he briefed activists on the successful negotiation to restore the political institutions in the North.

Gerry Adams said:

“As my term as a TD for Louth comes to an end I have to confess to being emotional about departing after serving the people of this constituency for nine years.

I am deeply indebted to the citizens who elected me in 2011 and again in 2016 with Imelda Munster. I want to thank all of them and also my comrades in Sinn Fein.

Throughout my nine years in Louth my endeavour was to keep a national focus while delivering locally.

This included developing alternatives to Brexit, advancing the national cause, co-operating with neighbouring border counties and campaigning for projects like Narrow Water Bridge which as recently as last week we succeeded in getting into the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement which enabled the re-establishment of the power sharing government at Stormont.

Locally we concentrated on improving the provision of public services – particularly the provision of a Primary Care Centre in Dundalk, Mental Health services, housing provision, a new county ground for the GAA, and much more.

Sinn Féin, along with civil society and organisations like Border Communities Against Brexit have worked hard to ensure that there will be no physical infrastructure reinforcing the border dividing Ireland.

But there is much more work to been done to protect our economies North and South and to oppose the efforts by the British to dilute the rights agenda in the North.

I have mixed feelings about Leinster House. Obviously Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have a common agenda of outright hostility to Sinn Fein because we are United Irelanders and because of our commitment to equality, fairness and our core republican values. But in the last term they took this to the extreme of turning Leinster House into a Do Nothing Dáil.

The partnership between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael smothered and limited the potential for real solutions to the crises in housing and the health service. It also undermined the potential for advancing the search for Irish Unity in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

Votes against the government were rendered meaningless as they were ignored by the Taoiseach with the active support of the Fianna Fáil leader.

I also want to thank everyone who works in Teach Laighean to provide services and support for Oireachtas members.

The catering staff, the ushers, the civil servants and cleaners, the librarians and research staff, An Garda Síochána and everyone else who ensure that the place functions, have been wonderful to work with.

So too have my comrades in Sinn Féin’s Oireachtas team led by Mary Lou. I wish them well.

I welcome the calling of the election and the opportunity for Sinn Féin to persuade voters to elect an even stronger Sinn Féin team. Sinn Fein has strong, costed policies to end the crisis in housing and health, provide childcare, tackle climate change and poverty, and give families and workers a break. We also have a clear strategy to win support for Irish Unity. This has been enhanced by the establishment of the power sharing government in the North and I am pleased to have been part of that endeavour.

If we had listened to the propaganda from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil the durable basis for the Assembly would not have been secured.

So there is a lot to be done. In Louth Sinn Féin is standing two excellent candidates – Imelda Munster and Ruairí Ó Murchú – who in their time on Louth County Council, and in Imelda’s time in the Dáil, have proven to be very effective public representatives. I appeal to voters of Louth to return them both.

I appeal to voters across the state to return an even stronger Sinn Féin team.

On 8 February the electorate will have the opportunity to vote for fairness and decency and for Irish Unity and to end the tweedledee and tweedledum politics of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.”

Louth County Council to hold Voter Registration Clinics – Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin general election candidate Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú has encouraged people to check if they are registered to vote in the upcoming election on 8th February.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“I welcome the fact that Louth County Council will host registration clinics at County Hall, Dundalk and Fair Street, Drogheda this coming Saturday 18th January from 10.00am – 4.00pm.

“People can attend and check to see if they are on the voter register.  If they are not they can complete the necessary paperwork there and then.

“Anyone who wishes to get on the register must bring a standard photo ID and proof of address to the clinic on the day.

“Alternatively people can visit www.checktheregister.ie to check if they are included.

“If they are not listed on this website, people should contact Louth County Council on 1890 202303 or register@louthcoco.ie to check if they are on the supplementary register.

“If this is not the case people can complete form RFA2 which is available on www.louthcoco.ie website and return it to Louth County Council by 5pm on Wednesday 22nd January.” 

State commemoration of the RIC must be cancelled – Imelda Munster

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has said that the government’s plan to hold a State commemoration for the Royal Irish Constabulary on the January 17th is an affront to those who resisted British rule in Ireland during the Tan War, and that citizens who suffered at the hands of those that enforced British rule in Ireland are who we should be commemorating, not the RIC or the Black and Tans.

 

Deputy Munster said:

 

“The Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police were not merely police forces – as the Government seems to think – they had a specific role in upholding what was oftentimes martial law and suppressing the will of the Irish people for self-determination and national independence.

 

“This State commemoration should be cancelled outright.

 

“In no other State would those who facilitated the suppression of national freedom be commemorated by the State and I am calling on the government to cancel this proposed State commemoration. 

 

“I am calling on the Government’s representatives Fergus O’Dowd TD and Declan Breathnach TD to come forward and clarify their position on this. The State’s revisionism will leave them on the wrong side of history.

 

“It is those who resisted British rule in Ireland during the Tan War and citizens that suffered at the hands of the those that maintained British rule who the State should be commemorating, not the RIC or the Black and Tans.

 

“If this commemoration goes ahead it will undoubtedly be met with dignified protest and Sinn Féin is organising for that eventuality.”

Health Crisis scandal – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the government’s health strategy as “a shambles which is failing patients.”

The Louth TD described the record numbers of patients on hospital waiting lists and on trolleys and in wards waiting on admission as “a scandal” and “evidence that after 9 years of Fine Gael governments there has been an absolute failure to get to grips with the crisis in the health service.”

Teachta Adams pointed to the growing numbers of over 75’s forced to spend more than 24 hours on trolleys.

Gerry Adams said:

“In a PQ response from the Department of Health it was revealed that between January and November of last year 349 citizens aged over 75 years spent more than 24 hours on a hospital trolley in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. In November alone the figure was 53.

The most recent figures from the outpatient waiting lists reveal that over half a million citizens are waiting appointments. Last November Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda had 12,829 citizens awaiting their first appointment and of these over two thirds have been waiting for more than three months. Louth County Hospital has 2133 patients on its waiting list. Over half of these have been waiting for more than three months.

This week there were record numbers of patients in our overcrowded Accident and Emergency departments across the state. The hard work of a dedicated staff cannot compensate for the lack of adequate staffing levels and capacity within our acute hospital system. According to the INMO there are 411 fewer inpatient beds in our hospitals today than a decade ago, despite a larger, older population.

This crisis in waiting lists and trolley numbers did not happen out of the blue or because of the latest flu outbreak, it is part and parcel of the absence of a coherent government health strategy, and inadequate resources. Last year there were almost one hundred and twenty thousand patients stuck in overcrowded Emergency departments.

Behind these statistics are citizens, human beings, who are often frightened and concerned about their health and yet are forced to endure lengthy waits for hospital appointments or on hospital trolleys.

While Minister Harris in Health, like Minister Murphy in Housing, are responsible for the crises in these two essential public services, both Ministers are implementing government policy – housing and health policies that are supported by Fianna Fáil.

Urgent action is needed by Minister Harris to end the trolley crisis. This requires a crisis intervention package of measures, including increasing staff and bed capacity, lifting the recruitment embargo on frontline staff, expanding community care and moving ahead speedily with the Sláintecare reforms.”