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.”


Primary care services cut to the bone as Minister justifies overspend

imelda photo orangeSinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster asked questions this week in the Dáil about HSE plans to cut primary care services in the Louth-Meath area, and the news that the HSE has instructed management in the health service to save €1.5 million by way of staffing cuts between now and the end of the year.

She asked Minister for State Catherine Byrne, who was standing in for Minister for Health Simon Harris who was otherwise engaged, if the Minister would reverse this cut of €1.5million, given existing pressures on the services in Louth and Meath.

Deputy Munster:

“These measures will lead to serious cutbacks in services provided by occupational therapists, physiotherapists, public health nurses and, in particular, home help support staff. Last Friday week the HSE called a meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Louth at which it informed management there that the contracts of nine full-time clerical and administrative staff and one part-time clerical worker were to be terminated with immediate effect. It beggars belief that at a time when we are seeing services, especially primary care services, cut to the bone, further cuts are being made just as we come into the winter months. That is totally unacceptable and amounts to neglect of patient care.”

The Minister’s response was that the 1.5million was an overspend.

Deputy Munster:

“How can you have overspend when services are already cut to the bone. How can the Minister justify this? It’s bordering on neglect of patient care.”

Munster Hits Out At Community Safety Cuts

imelda photo orangeLouth TD Imelda Munster has raised Drogheda District’s community safety concerns at the Dáil with the Minister.

Drogheda district forms part of the Louth division which includes Drogheda, Dunleer and Clogherhead area and Garda stations.

Imelda Munster TD said “In 2010 there were 109 Gardaí assigned to the area however, using an answer I received from the minister, I found that there are now only 95 assigned to the area, 14 less than 2010.

“This week there was an armed robbery at the Post Office in Clogherhead. Despite ringing and pressing the panic button it took 40 mins for Garda to respond, yet the Garda station  is only one minute away. Finding a Garda present in Clogherhead Garda station has become pot luck as there are no official opening times. The same can be said about Dunleer station”.

The Louth TD explained that Drogheda is a large urban town with the same general problems as everywhere else but “it has now come to the stage where some people have completely given up on reporting crime as there appears to be very little in regards to the following up of these complaints”.

“Furthermore, community Gardaí are becoming disengaged and disenfranchised from communities because they’ve been required to perform other duties. You try to reach them by phone, and not unlike the more rural stations in the Drogheda area, its pot luck if you get them”.

“Neighbourhood watch schemes have been shelved. There are current schemes that have been enacted over a year ago, but not implemented. I’m aware of three applications from three estates that haven’t received as much as a phone call, which is worrying to say the least as the implementation of these schemes, would make for a more efficient network”.

Speaking on recent crime in the area, Imelda Munster TD said  “recently, there have been six burglaries carried out in one estate. The culprit was stashing his wares in an adjoining field and returning later to collect them. Despite being filmed doing this, the guards were called and arrested him, but he was never charged.

“This disengagement with communities and community Gardaí is due to a lack of resources and manpower, not the will of the Gardaí who do great work, and who are consistently overstretched and over worked for minimal financial reward.

“It’s common knowledge in Drogheda that there is frequently only one marked car on duty to respond to calls. The Gardaí no longer work in a proactive manner, but rather a reactive one. Morale is now at an all-time low, with many crimes going unreported and unsolved. This needs to change. The Gardaí need both further recruitment and resources to do their job effectively. Turning a blind eye to resourcing community policing has compounded the problems for communities across this state”.

Imelda Munster TD has asked the Minister directly for concrete plans on how he intends to address these issues.

Louth Lone Parents face harsh cuts – Adams

Gerry At Lone Parents Meeting 2015Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has extended solidarity to the large number of one parent families who held a protest today outside the Dáil against planned brutal cuts by the Labour leader Joan Burton to the Lone Parent Allowance. The cuts are due to come into force on July 2nd.

Teachta Adams said:

“An estimated 12,000 families, including many in Louth, face significant cuts to their lone parent allowance of up to €86 per week. This will be the eighth cut to the lone parent allowance under this Labour and Fine Gael government.

One family Ireland has estimated that there are 6,023 lone parent households in Louth of which 87% are lone mothers and 13% are lone fathers. One-parent families make up 14% of all households in Louth. Many of these will be affected by the cuts.

The impact of this, especially on children in Dundalk and Drogheda and Ardee and across the county will be significant. It will drive many more families into poverty.

Lone parent families are among the most vulnerable people in our constituency.  CSO figures show that 63% of lone parent families are living without basic necessities. It is estimated that at least 135,000 children are in constant poverty and living with without basic necessities.

One parent families are also at a greater risk of homelessness. 60% of households seeking urgent housing assistance are one parent families.

The Labour Leader Joan Burton claims that her cuts are about forcing lone parents to enter employment or education. When she announced the cuts the Labour leader claimed that there would be affordable childcare and afterschool care.

The reality is that for many parents’ childcare remains unaffordable. In addition there are few jobs and many employers in the lower-paid sectors of the economy will not guarantee workers regular or sufficient hours.

For many, the Burton cut will mean having to choose between putting food on the table or paying an electricity bill.”

Loughran outraged at Cuts targeting the Elderly and Disabled

Jim Loughran - Outraged

Jim Loughran – Outraged

Councillor Jim Loughran has this morning, criticised cuts to the Housing Aid Grant for older people which were introduced this year without any announcement from the government. Local authorities have been told that these cuts must be implemented immediately. The housing adaptation grant for disabled people will also be cut back.

Jim Loughran angrily said “These grants have been used by the elderly and disabled to make their homes more habitable e.g. replacement of windows and doors, the installation or upgrade of heating systems and for the disabled, installing hand rails, ramps etc. I hope that these cuts along with the fact that you must now be 66 years old instead of 60 to qualify will not lead to people having to leave their homes and I would ask that these measures be reversed immediately.”