Adams concerned at Authentic Food Company

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has said that he is deeply concerned at confirmation this afternoon that The Authentic Food Company has decided to close its Dundalk facility with immediate effect.

Deputy Adams said;

“It is extremely bad news for the 180 staff at The Authentic Food Company that operations are to cease at the Dundalk facility.

“It is also worrying that the company has stated that the Dundalk branch of the company is being placed in administration.

“I first wrote to the company on 21st September, asking them to clarify their future intentions following representations to my office from concerned staff.

“The company did not respond to my email nor to correspondence from local Sinn Féin councillors Ruairí Ó Murchú and Anne Campbell who have spoken with workers numerous times.

“These staff have been treated deplorably.  They have been in limbo for the past month with no communication from the company.

“I have contacted Nik Basran, Managing Director, again today and asked that he meet with staff and offer them terms which reflect their commitment over many years.

“I understand that The Authentic Food Company is a profitable business.  It should now offer optimum redundancy terms to its workforce in Dundalk.

“I have also contacted the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to request her immediate intervention in this matter”

Cllr Joanna Byrne Calls For Legislation To Protect Emergency Services Frontline Workers

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has welcomed the passing of her Council motion calling for any future sentencing guidelines to consider assaults on frontline worker’s as ‘aggravating factors’, potentially leading to more severe punishments issued by the courts. Her motion was successfully passed with cross-party support.

The motion read as follows:

“Louth County Council recognises the essential role carried out by emergency service workers including Ambulance, Fire Service, Gardaí and Customs, and the risks that these frontline workers take in the service of the public.
We also recognise that assaults carried out upon such emergency services in the course of their duties, can hamper, delay, and prevent these services coming to the assistance of the public, often during situations and events of serious duress and danger.
– Therefore, we consider the nature of such assaults as serious, and it should be considered an aggravating factor, where any assault is made against a frontline worker during the commission of their duties, and that any review or future sentencing guidelines should provide that it would be considered an aggravating factor.”

Cllr Byrne gave a passionate speech to the chamber while delivering her motion. “There is unprecedented levels of violence occurring in the line of duty for these workers and the worrying trend of callout crews being targeted shows no sign of abating, including here in Louth. Crews have come to accept these attacks as an ‘occupational hazard’ which is just wrong; violence against any emergency service worker should never be accepted at any level, let alone expected.”

Cllr Byrne also recognised the need for “specific legislation to protect emergency personnel and send a firm message to the perpetrators that the law will no longer be as lenient.”

Cllr Byrne was able to state cases of a paramedic being assaulted while treating a cardiac patient on a bus, during which he lost his two front teeth whilst his colleague had blood spat in his face. In another case she told of a firefighter losing part of his ear through being bitten, amongst others, and all the while highlighting the impact that these attacks could potentially have on the lives of the people these workers were trying to save.

Cllr Byrne also explained that ‘The Irish Fire and Emergency Service’s Association’’, the Union for 999 personnel, claims that “assaults like these are much more common than statistics even suggest, considering they are only recorded when an injury occurs, incidents with physical contact but yet no injuries are not recorded.”

Cllr Byrne said “We cannot sit idly by just expressing sentiments of thanks to these valuable frontline services, it’s time to support them properly and do our utmost to ensure their safety at all times, only then can they focus on their duties and continue to protect and save the lives of us all in this country.”

Notification of this motion being passed will now be sent to the Minister for Justice, Charles Flanagan, for his Department to consider when next reviewing sentencing guidelines.

Reduced Drogheda Budget Voted Down

Tuesday’s Drogheda Council budget meeting ended with the budget of just €20,000 (reduced from €60,000 last year) being voted down by a vote of 5 for and 5 against leaving the Mayor with the casting vote.

Sinn Féin Councillors Joanna Byrne, Kenneth Flood and David Saurin gave a litany of reasons as to why they could not support the reduced budget.

Cllr Joanna Byrne said “The Ardee and Dundalk council meetings also seen their reduced budgets being voted down. But the difference there was that there was no talk of introducing or increasing pay parking charges. However, at the
Drogheda meeting it turned into a discussion, driven by the Chief Executive, to try and over turn our recent democratically passed motion to decrease Drogheda’s pay parking charges to €1 per hour, (except in the area around the hospital).”

An exasperated Byrne said “This is before we have even seen the decrease take place and see how it affects parking in Drogheda. The pay parking charges have never been on the agenda at a Municipal District Budget Meeting before.”

Cllr David Saurin said ” We have asked many times previously, as have other councillors at the parking meetings, if pay parking was to be increased, is it possible to ring fence it for Drogheda? The answer was always no. Now suddenly we are told and expected to believe that if we vote to increase the charge back to €1.20 we can ring fence it, but only at this specific meeting. No Councillor had ever heard that before. It just beggars belief.”

Cllr Kenneth Flood said “During last year’s budget discussions we were promised specific measures for various parts of Drogheda, none of which has materialised. We were asked by council officials to make submissions to the
budget process for consideration. The Sinn Féin group of Councillors made a varied and detailed submission with initiatives that we believe could save the Council substantial amounts of money. We did not receive a response to our submission.”

Cllr Flood said “We have not received answers to our queries, such as how much does the Council pay it’s PR Company and how much does it pay consultants to write policy documents etc. or even where this money appears on the budget. The Council has removed pay parking spaces on the North Strand without consultation, consideration or notice.  We are excluded from the process. We cannot be asked to pass any budget we are excluded from. We cannot increase parking charges when no one else is being asked to.”

Cllr Flood said “We have stuck to our principles and kept our word to the residents of Drogheda. We are not here to rubber stamp budgets, we are here to represent the people of Drogheda and ensure there is transparency, accountability and value for public money.”

Budget 2019 fails Louth – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described this week’s budget as a “missed opportunity by this Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil government to tackle the big issues, like housing and health, disabilities and respite services, and climate change which are impacting on citizens in all parts of this state at this time.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Louth has an estimated 20,000 citizens with a disability. Respite care for those living with a disability is a priority which this government has failed to address in the past and which it fails to mention in Budget 2019.

The small number of respite beds in Louth cannot meet the high demand for people with disabilities. It is not acceptable that respite services are ignored by the government in its budget. Citizens with disabilities and their carers have rights and the responsibility of the government must be to support those rights and to resource them.

In March of this year this state ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was a long overdue decision but it has not been matched by government investment to assist those with disabilities.

Budget 2019 fails to meet the needs of citizens with disabilities in health, in education and in housing. Only an additional four million euro has been provided for housing adaption work.

Sinn Féin called for a cross-Departmental and whole of government rights based and social approach to persons with disabilities. What we have got from this government is more of the same and that is not good enough.”

On the issue of housing Gerry Adams said:

“The claim by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that this is a housing budget does not stand up to scrutiny. Housing and homelessness is in crisis.  It required a priority response and significant additional resources by the government. Instead the proposals in the budget fail to tackle the huge social and affordable housing need which clearly exists in Louth and across this state.

When you cut through all of the hype only a miserable €120m additional has been allocated for capital investment in housing.

This means that less than 500 new social homes, in addition to what was already committed, will be provided bring the total for 2019 to less than 8,000 homes. This is far short of what is needed.

In a budget that provides more money for landlords the government is predictably pushing the responsibility for housing onto the private rental market. Almost 20,000 subsidised private rental tenancies will be used to meet social housing need. This is a short term strategy which provides no security for tenants and leaves them vulnerable to homelessness”.

Finally, commenting on the failure to seriously address the issue of climate change Teachta Adams said:

“The United Nations report on global warning has warned that the governments of the world have 12 years in which to avert a major climate catastrophe. The report warns that failure to act will see extreme weather conditions worsen, increase the risks to citizens, impact on the food supply and will damage the world’s economy.

To tackle this significant problem humanity has to reduce carbon emission and adopt renewable energy sources. The reality is that this government has failed on both counts and Budget 2019 is another missed opportunity.

As a result this state will not only miss its international obligations on carbon emissions but it will face fines of hundreds of millions of euro”.

SF Alternative Budget prioritises lowering costs and increasing income – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams and Cllr Ruairi Ó Murchú this morning launched the party’s Alternative Budget proposals in Dundalk.

Gerry Adams said:

“Sinn Féin’s costed budget proposals are about increasing the income to family homes, and lowering costs to make life affordable again.

Very specifically our wide range of policy proposals aim to end the crises in housing and health.

Sinn Féin is calling for a three-year temporary freeze on rents allied to a temporary tax relief for renters. This tax relief would cover the price of one month’s rent for every renter in the State for a period of three years. At the same time, we would fund an ambitious building programme to ensure that there are affordable and social housing available. This would bring the total number of social houses delivered in 2019 to 10,260.

The cost of childcare is among the highest in Europe and for many families it amounts to a second mortgage. Sinn Féin is proposing an increase to the Affordable Childcare Scheme from 50 cents to €2.5 per hour. This would halve the cost of childcare for young children.

Sinn Féin would increase incomes by raising the minimum wage to €10.50 and implementing an €11.90 living wage across the public sector and civil services.  We would also increase social welfare payments and pensions by €5 and the disability allowance, invalidity pension and blind pension by €9.

We also have an ambitious investment programme for our health service which includes opening 500 beds, recruiting 350 nurses and 150 midwives, and increase respite care services by 20%.

Sinn Féin would lay the foundations for world class public services through increased investment in education, healthcare, disability services and public transport”.

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú said: “As with all budgets, this budget is about choices.  Sinn Féin chooses to invest the available resources in our public services and infrastructure to help protect us from another economic crash.

Our budget is about a new, modern economy based on fairness, shared prosperity and world-class public services, where we invest in the potential of every citizen and community in the state, and where no one is ever left behind.

Among our priorities we would strengthen rights for workers and ensure that banks and the wealthiest in society pay their fair share of tax.

We would invest in the potential and stability of SMEs and Irish businesses in the face of Brexit and increasing uncertainty.

These are the choices Sinn Féin would make.  Our alternative budget is costed and achievable.”