Sinn Féin Jobpath motion passes Dáil

Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed Thursday’s Dáil vote which saw the party’s motion to end the Jobpath scheme pass.

Gerry Adams, who spoke in the Dáil during the debate, said: “Jobpath was introduced in 2015 by the then Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton. Sinn Féin believed then and we have been proven right, that this scheme is more about massaging the unemployment statistics than delivering for those seeking employment. It is also about privatising public services. And it should end.

Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted serious concerns about the processes used within the Jobpath scheme. We have repeatedly expressed our concerns about the delivery of JobPath by two private companies, Turas Nua and Seetec. Figures released late last year revealed that of almost 200,000 people referred to JobPath, only 9% had secured employment for at least one year. That is an appalling record of failure at a significant cost to the taxpayer. The only beneficiaries of JobPath have been the two private companies. Turas Nua has received €76 million and Seetec €73 million of the people’s money. The experience has been deeply unsatisfactory for the thousands who have been forced through this scheme. I have heard first-hand accounts from citizens in my own constituency of the hurt and stress they have faced as a result of this bad scheme.

In one instance, a mother with young children was required to organise and pay for childcare to attend JobPath offices just to do an Internet job search. Another woman had her jobseeker’s payment cut by €25 for not signing a personal progression plan, despite having attended all the sessions in the course.

That makes €76 million for Turas Nua and €25 taken from a young woman. These cases are not unique to Louth.

Reseach by Dr. Ray Griffin and Dr. Tom Boland from the Waterford Un/Employment Research Collaborative, concluded that the impact of JobPath on individual lives is decidedly negative. Not one of the 121 people interviewed by the Waterford researchers reported a positive experience. On the contrary, they describe a scheme that is patronising, threatening, bullying and manipulative.

JobPath should be ended and funding should now be provided to those organisations like community employment, the Local Employment Service Network and adult guidance services which have a much better record of assisting citizens in search of employment”.

Adams calls for implementation of UN Con. on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams joined with party colleagues on Tuesday evening in the Dáil in demanding that the government do more to deliver on the rights contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He commended Louth Groups and individuals who advocate their services for citizens with disabilities.

He said: “They provide much needed supports for citizens in this constituency with disabilities and have fought a battle a day with successive governments over the lack of funding, planning and resources. It took 11 years for the government to ratify the UN Convention. This is totally contrary to the Convention and is unacceptable.”

In March this year, 11 years after the state signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Government finally ratified the Convention.

On Tuesday, at a briefing with a range of disability groups the difficulties confronting citizens with disabilities, including the lack of planning, resources and funding, were discussed.

Gerry Adams TD said:

“The eventual ratification by the government of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was an important step forward. However, it is meaningless if the Convention is not implemented in full and if the legislation needed to achieve this is not enacted by the Oireachtas.

That means that the Government must ratify the Optional Protocol, as they had previously promised. In addition, the Assisted-Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 remains at a standstill with the essential establishment of a Decision Support Service still awaited. We also need progress on the enactment of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016.

Today in a briefing organised by Teachta O Caoláin, Shelley Gaynor and James Cawley from Independent Living Movement Ireland; Sarah Lennon, Inclusion Ireland; Kathy Moore, Rehab Ireland; Allen Dunne, Disability Federation of Ireland and Joan Carthy, Irish Wheelchair Association; told us that without adequate services citizens living with disabilities are like prisoners.

In Louth I work with many groups and individuals who advocate for services for people with disabilities; groups like the Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled; Louth Respite Group; WALK Peer, and others. I commend them all”.

Better no border at all – Adams

Speaking in tonight’s Dáil debate on the draft Withdrawal Agreement relating to Brexit the Louth TD Gerry Adams expressed his concern at the failure of the draft Agreement to protect the rights of Irish/EU citizens living in the North and of the dangers Brexit poses to the Good Friday Agreement.

The Louth TD reminded the Taoiseach that last December he said that citizens in the North “will never again be left behind by an Irish Government”. Last December’s Joint Report by the ERU and British government stated that there would be “no diminution of rights” and that “Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland”

However, this has now been deleted. That is a significant backward step. While the draft Agreement does contain a clause on rights it is not legally binding. The government should be very aware that Irish citizens in the North are very conscious of that. Recently one thousand leaders of civic nationalism reminded the Taoiseach of his commitments”.

Teachta Adams raised the fact that Irish and EU citizens in the North will not be able to elect an MEP. He asked the Taoiseach if in light of the additional two seats being allocated to the state for the European Parliament, if the government has “considered allocating them to the North?”

The Louth TD pointed out that the draft Withdrawal Agreement means that the European Charter of Fundamental Rights will no longer apply in the north, which means that certain rights will be undermined. These include “a range of social and economic rights, including workers’ rights, which people currently enjoy in the EU which will now be left to the British government’s discretion”.

The Louth TD also raised the threat posed by Brexit to the Good Friday Agreement, and in particular the failure of the British government to exercise its power in the North with rigorous impartiality. Gerry Adams said: “The British refusal to defend the rights of Irish language speakers; to protect equality and human rights for gay and lesbian citizens; to implement agreements on legacy; or to honour outstanding Agreement commitments, on establishing a Bill of Rights, and create a Civic Forum, are all evidence of the absence of ‘rigorous impartiality’.

Moreover, following Brexit the British Conservatives remain wedded to ending the role of the European Court of Justice and getting rid of the Human Rights Act which protects the equality and human rights principles of the Agreement. Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement.”

Concluding Gerry Adams proposed that in the context of Brexit Irish unity takes on a greater significance and imperative.

He said: “This is a logical, common sense outcome to the political, social and economic fractures imposed by partition but it also makes sense in the current Brexit provoked crisis. Apart from any other consideration reunification will allow for the North to again become part of the EU. Hard border? Soft border? Better to have no border at all. That’s what the government and the Oireachtas should be working for.”

Adams welcomes High Court decision to back GSOC in Omeath case

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the decision by the High Court to instruct the Special Criminal Court to hand over transcripts of proceedings before the Special Criminal Court relating to Adrian Crevan Mackin who shot dead Garda Tony Golden in October 2015.

Teachta Gerry Adams said:

“Crevan Mackin shot dead Garda Tony Golden in October 2015. He also shot and grievously wounded Siobhan Philips, before killing himself.

Crevan Mackin was previously arrested in January 2015 in possession of explosives and firearms, which he admitted. He was not charged with these offences but instead with an offence he had denied. He was granted bail in the Special Criminal Court.

I have raised my concerns about the manner in which Adrian Crevan Mackin was dealt with by the Garda, the many offences which he admitted to but he was not charged with, the low bail that was set, and his access to other weapons, with the Minister for Justice and An Taoiseach.  

In April the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) agreed to initiate a public interest investigation into these matters after I wrote to it and presented it with papers that I had received relating to the case.

At the time I gave these papers to the investigating officer in the Garda, to GSOC, to the former and current Taoiseach and to the former and current Minister of Justice.

The decision by the Special Criminal Court to refuse to hand over to GSOC the transcripts of proceedings involving Crevan Mackin was incomprehensible. That one part of the justice system would refuse to cooperate with another is a matter of grave concern.

Public accountability and public confidence in the rule of law and the institutions of policing and justice are essential. GSOC should never have been forced to go to the High Court”.

Adams calls on Government to support Dundalk workers

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams speaking in the Dáil has expressed his grave concern at the impact of the closure of the Authentic Food Company on the almost 200 workers employed there. The workers have received “no notice pay, no P45, no reference, and no redundancy payment. They will receive no wages during the 30 day consultation period or the two week notice period. This means that families with mortgages and other financial bills will have no money for six weeks.”

Gerry Adams TD called on the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty to “take urgent action to ensure that workers from the Authentic Food Company have access to social welfare”.

Teachta Adams also urged the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphrey’s “to investigate whether the closure of this business was a tactical insolvency by the British based company, and what steps she is taking to ensure that either a new buyer is found for the plant or the workforce is reemployed as quickly as possible.”

On Wednesday Gerry Adams TD met with the Liquidator, spoke to Enterprise Ireland and met with representatives of the UNITE union.

Speaking in the Dáil Gerry Adams said:

“I first wrote to the company on 21 September having been contacted by workers and their representatives about rumours that Authentic Food was closing. The company did not respond to my initial correspondence or to representations from Sinn Féin Councillors Ruairí Ó Murchú and Anne Campbell.

Instead on 19 October the company went to the High Court. Staff at Authentic Foods then received notice that the company was allegedly insolvent and unable to pay wages,

The Managing Director of Authentic Foods, Nik Basran, claims that the management carried out a comprehensive review of the business to try and find a way to make it profitable over the long term but he said this was not possible.

The Minister has a responsibility to ask what type of review is it that excludes the workers’ representatives, that refuses to engage directly with UNITE. What kind of review is it that can be manipulated by employers so that these workers have no notice pay, no P45, no reference, and no redundancy payment. This is very calculated. It is sharp practice.

Will the Minister give the Dáil a commitment that she will investigate whether this is a tactical insolvency? We need to establish if the British based Authentic Food Company deliberately wound down the Dundalk plant.

The work force has been treated shamefully. They can’t access social welfare. I would urge the Minister for Social Protection to use her discretion to ensure that workers get their social welfare payments as soon as possible.

I would ask the Minister for Enterprise to do everything possible to have this workforce reemployed as quickly as possible. The government needs to make it very clear that it does not countenance companies refusing to talk to trade unions in situations involving a restructuring or a closure.

There is also an urgent need to prevent liquidations being used in a tactical manner to the advantage of the companies and the disadvantage of workers, their families and community.

Let me remind the Dáil that Sinn Féin has already introduced a Bill that would give trade unions “the right to be heard” in matters of industrial relations – the 2018 Trade Union Representation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018

We have also had a bill passed at second stage that would address the issue of tactical insolvencies – the 2016 Protection of Employees (Collective Redundancies) Bill.

Despite the fact that it was passed unanimously by the Dáil at second stage the government decided to block it from going to third stage committee via a money message. I ask the government to ensure government support for this Bill.”