Munster welcomes announcement of SNA allocations in coming days

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has today received confirmation from the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton TD, that Special Needs Assistants (SNA) allocations will be published in the coming days.

Deputy Munster asked Minister Bruton in the Dáil chamber when SNAs would be informed of their job status for the coming school year. In previous years SNA allocations were not made public until July, which left hundreds of SNAs unsure of their employment status when they finished work for the summer.

Deputy Munster said:

“The unions balloted on this issue and 97% of the membership voted in favour of industrial action over this issue. A deal was struck where the Minister committed to publishing the allocations earlier this year, and in the coming years and plans for industrial action were halted.”

“Given that we are now in the middle of May, there were concerns that SNAs would be left waiting for this information again this year.”

“This afternoon when I questioned the Minister he confirmed that the allocations would be published in the coming days, which is very positive news for SNAs.”

“It is a pity that industrial action has to be threatened for the Minister to move on a matter as important as this.”

“It is cruel to leave workers in limbo each year. It leads to huge uncertainty and worry for SNAs, who do invaluable work in the education sector.”

Munster Calls for Minister To Meet Residents on Ardee ByPass

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport, Imelda Munster TD, is calling for amendments to the proposed plans for the N52 Ardee bypass following a meeting with the Ardee Residents Committee.

Deputy Munster said:

“Minister Ross announced on 23rd December that the project is now “shovel ready” to go ahead but the residents committee are urgently seeking a review to ensure that the safest methods are employed to maintain continuity of access for the community into and out of Ardee town, while diverting the Heavy Goods Vehicle traffic from the town.

While the committee stress that they welcome the bypass, they are concerned that the realignment design needs to be modified to reflect changing demographics in the area during the intervening 12 years since the plans were originally finalised in 2006. The community understand and support the need for the bypass to join the the N2 but they do not accept that this necessitates the closure of two roads with cul-de-sacs which would permanently block local traffic from travelling two established direct routes in and out of Ardee town. They contend that with innovative engineering there is a safe way to retain both roads open and at the same time achieve the stated objective of the N52 bypass while maintaining through access with other options such as roundabouts, traffic lights, staggered junctions and flyovers/tunnels.

I have requested a meeting with Minister of Transport, Shane Ross and a small delegation from the residents committee to highlight the negative affect the plan as it stands will have on the communities to the north of Ardee town and the bypass.

I do hope the Minister will make himself available to meet with the delegation.”

Munster: 50% increased Spending Deficit since Ross Took Office

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Transport, Imelda Munster TD, has lambasted the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross TD, after he disclosed at a meeting of the Oireachtas Transport Committee that the spending deficit in road maintenance has increased by 50% since he took office.

Deputy Munster said:

“When Shane Ross took office there was a deficit in spending on the maintenance of local and regional roads to the tune of €3billion.

“This was due to a decade of neglect when the previous Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments chose to bail out banks rather than invest in services and infrastructure.

“However, the government is blue in the face trying to convince us that the economy is in recovery.

“If the economy is booming, why is the deficit at €4.5billion after two years of this government being in power? That is an increase of 50%.

“Fianna Fáil also have to take responsibility, for supporting successive budgets that have led to the crumbling of infrastructure right across the state.

“It is clear that Shane Ross is out of his depth. He has known about this issue for 2 years and has done precious little to address it.

“The longer he ignores this issue the more costly it will be, both in terms of spending in order to bring roads up to a steady state condition and in terms of road safety.

Imelda Munster TD: Dáil Bar Tab Culture Needs to End

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has today cricitised the practice of allowing Oireachtas members the privilege of buying food and drink in Leinster House on credit, whilst welcoming new measures to ensure that these tabs will at least be cleared by Oireachtas members going forward.

Deputy Munster said:

“Any measure designed to ensure that Oireachtas members pay their debts is of course to be welcomed. I would question the practice of giving TDs and Senators the option of credit in the first place.”

“It’s a privilege not afforded to anyone else, and I think it should be scrapped completely.”

A letter was sent to all Oireachtas members this week which outlined a new credit policy for use of the Dáil bars and restaurants.

The policy requires that TDs and Senators must register before seeking to make purchases on credit, and also provides for a facility where any debts will taken from the salary of the Oireachtas member the month following the end of the credit period.

A recent report by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission disclosed that almost €5,500 in unpaid Dáil catering tabs had to be written off, because the politicians involved would not settle their bills.

Deputy Munster said:

“You couldn’t make it up. In what other workplace are there two bars, where people can buy drink and food on credit?”

“The Dáil is a place of work, and I see no reason for bars on the premises, in particular the Private Members’ Bar from which staff and visitors are prohibited.”

“If an ordinary mother can’t go into a restaurant and demand food on credit, I don’t see why Oireachtas members are afforded that privilege.”

“I welcome the fact that debts will now be paid by TDs and Senators. Before this change in policy, sleveen politicians would bring up groups of constituents and make big men of themselves buying rounds of drinks, and presumably votes, and then never paying for them.”

“This was making fools of constituents who went home thinking their local politician had bought them food or drink, when in fact they themselves, as taxpayers, were picking up the tab.”

“I have written to the Ceann Comhairle expressing the view that this culture needs to stop. There is no justification for it”.

“This privilege afforded to TDs, allowing them Dáil tabs for wining and dining has to stop.”

Louth Easter 1916 Commemorations attract large numbers

 Republicans throughout Louth turned out in large numbers to remember the Easter Rising and also pay tribute to all of those who, in every decade since 1916, stood by Ireland and stood by the ideals of those who died in 1916.

In Dundalk Imelda Munster TD was the main speaker and reflected on how it was 100 years since women over 30 and working class men over the age of 21 got the vote. She said “this, the reaction to the executions of our leaders in 1916 combined with Sinn Féin successfully leading a campaign against conscription in Ireland in 1918 and a number of other political factors,  seen the vast majority of citizens turn their backs on Britain and vote for Irish Republicans.”

It also seen the election of the first woman to Westminster, Countess Markievicz.

Imelda, being the first woman elected to the Dáil in Louth then said, “we still don’t go to Westminster and the 7 nationalist seats are now 7 Republican seats. The orange state is gone. The Unionist majority in the North has gone. Citizens are turning away from the forces of old conservative Ireland. We are no longer just orange and green – we are a rainbow of colours and identities. We are building a new Ireland that includes everyone and are striving to leave no-one behind.”

Imelda Munster TD went on to talk about realising the goals of the leaders of 1916 and how we go about achieving this. “This new Ireland must be about more than just adding or joining the north to the south. We do not want a 32 county free state. We want a new Republic. The Republic of Wolfe Tone, James Connolly, Constance Markievicz, Mairead Farrell, Bobby Sands and Martin McGuinness.

“In the words of Maire Drumm, “We must take no steps backward, our steps must be onward, for if we don’t, the martyrs that died for you, for me, for this country will haunt us forever.””

The TD then outlined what kind of Ireland we wanted, one of equality for all and a rights based society where no-one is left behind. “Delivering Irish Unity is the key to building a new Ireland. That is where it starts.”

Imelda Munster then talked about Brexit and the challenges ahead. “groups that are seeking to impose Brexit and place an EU frontier or a ‘hard border’ across our island, they want to drag us back into the dark days again when we couldn’t even drive up the road here to Newry without having to be interrogated by men in foreign uniforms as to where we were going and why?

“These people do not care for you, me, our citizens, our rights or our economy. They are now attacking the Good Friday Agreement. An Agreement that belongs to the people of Ireland, not the Tories in London.”

Speaking to the large crowd Munster warned of the work ahead:

“We face many challenges in the very near future:

  • A referendum to remove article 8 from the constitution.
  • We need to prepare and win the coming elections.
  • We need to settle Brexit with preferably a United Ireland by moving the border to the Irish Sea or at the very least, to secure special status for the North within the EU
  • We need to secure and win a referendum on Irish unity.
  • We need to have the institutions re-established in the North, with Michelle O’Neill as joint first minister. We need to secure the right of citizens to marriage equality, to language rights.
  • We need to promote the cause of reconciliation.

“The Challenges are great but we are greater. We must mobilise people and organise for change.”

Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú who was chairing the event in Dundalk called on Leo Varadkar and the Dublin Government to move to recognise the State of Palestine and to immediately expel the Israeli Ambassador from Ireland following the massacre of 16 people in Gaza by the Israeli military.

The organisers of the events in Louth wish to thank those who helped ensure that each parade and wreath laying ceremony was a dignified and fitting tribute to the memory of our patriot dead. They want to thank the speakers Imelda Munster TD and Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú, the colour parties, the Martin Doco Band from Scotland, the stewards, those who erected the flags and PA systems and to the many hundreds who attended the parades. Míle buíochas.