No austerity for Government golden circle – Adams

Ard Fheis 8Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said the breach of pay caps for Ministerial Advisers exposes the fact that there is no austerity for the Government’s golden circle.

Raising the issue in the Dáil with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Adams said a “culture of privilege” across the upper echelons of the public sector was encouraged by continued breach of pay caps for Government Advisers.

He said the Government was living in a bubble and pointed out that the Taoiseach is paid more than the President of France, a country with a population of 64 million. Meanwhile, in stark contrast, he said planned cuts to the One Parent Family Payment will push lone-parent families further into poverty.

Gerry Adams said:

“Recent salary increases for Special Advisers are in direct breach of Cabinet Guidelines. An Adviser to Environment Minister Alan Kelly was paid €85,750 to advise him on, of all things, housing strategy and Irish Water. That is €5,000 above the recommended level.

“Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who wants to impose austerity on the Greeks, sought to have an adviser paid €3,000 more than the Cabinet guideline.

“This was initially rejected because, according to Minister Howlin, there was ‘no compelling reason to sanction the increase’. Five days later, Minister Howlin granted this increase. What was the compelling reason for this?

“Minister Alex White had an adviser put on a salary of €91,624. This was €12,000 higher than the salary originally offered. Minister Simon Coveney secured a €25,000 salary increase last July for an adviser.

“What all of this exposes, once again, is that there is no austerity for the Government. A culture of privilege across the upper echelons of the public sector has been encouraged by this continued breach of pay caps for Ministerial Advisers.

“Meanwhile the Government imposes spay cuts on frontline staff, destroy public services and cut benefits to the most vulnerable. For example, lone parents, who are also carers, will lose €86 per week if your Government goes ahead with its cuts to the One Parent Family Payment. This will push these families further into poverty.

“The continued breach of pay guidelines for Ministerial advisers is also a breach of Enda Kenny’s own election promises and the Government’s much vaunted commitment to reform of the political system.

“The Government is living in a bubble, a golden circle. The Taoiseach is paid more than the President of France, a country with population of 64 million people.

“The Tánaiste’s chief of staff gets a salary of €144,550, nearly as much as the President of France. Her economic adviser is on €114,424. Joan Burton sought to have her former PA put on a salary of €79,401. She eventually settled for €75,647. It would be great if she negotiated as strongly for citizens in difficulties.

“While she lobbies for these extravagant pay hikes for her advisers, the Tánaiste plans to lower the cut-off age for One Parent Family Payment to 7 years from 2nd July. 63% of one-parent households are now living without basic necessities. If Joan Burton’s cut goes ahead, thousands of one-parent families will be pushed further into poverty.

“In light of the hardship and restraint being imposed on citizens through the Government’s austerity policies, the continued breach of pay guidelines for extremely well-paid Ministerial advisers is entirely unacceptable.”

Cassidy Hits Out At Vacant Houses While Families Wait For Homes

Alan CassidySinn Féin Councillor Alan Cassidy has hit out at Louth County Council’s Housing Department for its lack of action in Drogheda. With over 1,600 applicants in Drogheda alone and over 4,500 throughout County Louth, the situation is regarded as a ‘crisis’.

Council officials have informed the Tallanstown Councillor that they are allocating houses to those who have been on the waiting list for an average of 7-8 years as they become available.

Roughly 30% of the social housing stock is in the form of Voluntary Housing Associations.

Speaking today, Councillor Cassidy said it was “extremely frustrating that when people are crying out for homes, there are boarded up houses in the same area of the town. For example, there are two houses in Rowan Heights, one of which has been boarded up now for over five months. I have been approached by a number of families regarding these houses, who have been on the list for seven years and yet when I make representations to the Council I get a stock answer. These people are told that yes, you are a qualified applicant and it is just a case of waiting until a property becomes available in your area. They then walk past these boarded up properties. It is so frustrating”.

Last month Fellow Sinn Féin Councillor Imelda Munster, expressed her anger at nearly €3 million being taken out of the Council budget every year for the next 25 years, to pay for loans (interest only) on land reserved to build social housing.

Councillor Cassidy continued, “Labour Ministers have met with council officials and put the onus on the council to house those in need, yet the council are reliant on government funding to build new units. It beggars belief. Surely if we took the interest payment of almost €3 million for just one year and put it into opening up these boarded up houses and building new stock, it would alleviate the problem somewhat in this area.”

Concluding, Alan Cassidy said “we need to remember who these people are. They are not just statistics on a list. Every one of them has a story, a life, a family, hopes and dreams for the future just like anyone else. They are people. They are human beings and deserved to be treated with dignity.”

Boarded up home at Rowan Heights, Drogheda

Boarded up home at Rowan Heights, Drogheda

Green Welcomes Raymond McCreesh Name Retention

Jennifer GreenCouncillor Jennifer Green has welcomed last night’s decision by Newry & Mourne District Council to retain the name of Raymond McCreesh in the playground situated in the Ballybot area of Newry.

Speaking this morning Councillor Green said “the people who live in and around the park are 100% behind the name and that’s what is important. The Unionist community is not affected. The Park was named in 2001 and the complaint from the Newry Orange Order was not made until 2008. The Orange Order has no presence in the area so they are not affected in any way.”

Raymond McCreesh was the third hunger striker to die after Bobby Sands and Frances Hughes. He was from nearby Camlough and his brother Malachy is now a Sinn Féin Councillor in Newry.

Raymond McCreesh Park

Raymond McCreesh Park

One Scan During Pregnancy Not Enough – Sharkey

Tomas Sharkey PhotoLouth Sinn Féin County Councillor Tomás Sharkey is calling for pregnant mothers in the region to receive more than the current one scan during pregnancy.

The HSE Forum member went on to say:
“Pregnant mothers in this area have only one scan known as the “twelve week scan” which I believe is not sufficient. I have raised my concerns about this with the HSE in the past. A scan during pregnancy will help expectant mothers be aware of the development of their babies and inform the doctors and midwives in our health service on how best to care for both mother and baby.
“The RTE Primetime programme this week highlighted that a review of breech birth incidences in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital was carried out last year. There are huge risks when a baby exits the pelvis with the buttocks or feet first as opposed to the normal head-first presentation.

“I have been contacted by pregnant mothers over recent years who were unhappy that only one scan was carried out during their pregnancies. In other maternity hospitals across the state, mothers have two and sometimes 3 scans as routine.
“I believe that a new regime of regular scans throughout the pregnancy and immediately before birth if required will support the well-being of mother and baby and am raising the issue once again with the HSE.”

Lourdes overcrowding is a result of bad management and incompetent politicians – Sharkey

Tomas Sharkey PhotoSinn Féin County Councillor Tomás Sharkey has hit out at the overcrowding crisis in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

“The Lourdes Hospital is in an overcrowding crisis once again. Patients are on trolleys because there are not enough beds in the hospital system and not enough supports to help patients be discharged to home or nursing homes.
“Last year when there was a trolley crisis a short term decision was made to provide transition care beds. these beds were a waiting service for Fair Deal nursing home beds. By December 2014 the average wait for Fair Deal was 13 weeks so the transition care beds became blocked.
“This year the government’s reaction to the trolley crisis was to cancel elective surgery in our hospitals. This has left patients in the position where they are left at home getting sicker and raising the potential for them to end up in A&E and in acute surgical and medical beds.
“The wrong decisions are being made in our health service. We need proper supports for patients to be discharged home to home help hours, physio and occupational therapy and the support of community nursing and dietician services. This will alleviate the beds crisis.
“We also need a bold new decision from government to reopen the A&E in Dundalk along with Acute Medical and surgical services.