Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ireland does not need EU/IMF ‘Bailout’ – It needs a new government

The IMF/EU ‘bailout’ deal will be voted on in the Dáil today. Shame on those who will side with the bankers and bondholders against the interests of the people. There is a protest outside the Dáil at 12.30 today. Bígí linn.

The government’s commitment to accepting the IMF/EU monies is a decision that will buckle the state and it’s people. And as for the EU and IMF! Both are behaving like loan sharks - extending credit at extortionate rates to pay back German, French and British bondholders.

What Fianna Fáil and the Greens are signing us up to is without precedent. The EU and the IMF are behaving like loan sharks - extending credit at extortionate rates to enable us to pay off the bondholders – German, French and British financiers. The EU and IMF efforts to force the Irish state to pump the last of its wealth and savings – the National Pension Reserve Fund – into its failed banking system is an international scandal.

The government’s commitment to accepting and drawing down the EU/IMF monies will buckle the state and its people. Ireland does not need the EU/IMF loan; it needs a new government at the helm with a brand new vision. Bondholders need to be cut loose from the states sovereign debt. It’s not our debt to pay. Anglo must fall on its sword. AIB and Bank of Ireland must come under full state ownership and be amalgamated if necessary. The deficit reduction period commitment must be extended to 2016. Growth through job creation must become the top policy priority. And socially regressive measures such as using the National Pension Reserve Fund to fund bank bondholders, the cut in minimum wage and a dogged refusal by the political establishment to introduce a wealth tax must be reversed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Labour leader intends to pay himself a whooping €190,000 in government!

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has described Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore’s declaration that he intends to pay himself a whooping €190,000 a year if in government after the next election as a “shocking statement of intent”.

Ms McDonald said “At a time when families across the country are struggling just to keep the lights on and food on the table the Labour Leader announces he intends to pay himself a whooping €190,000 a year if in government after the next election. Under his stewardship government Ministers would enjoy an annual basic salary of €161,000 a year, that’s nearly 5 times the average industrial wage! Interestingly his Fine Gael partners in crime have refused to outline their own planned pay scales in government.

“Government ministers’ and the higher echelons of the civil service have an outlandish sense of entitlement with both groups earning several multiples of what the people they are elected to represent and work on behalf of. The math’s of this equation simply doesn’t add up.

 “Sinn Féin in it’s pre Budget submission to government called for ALL public sector salaries to be capped at €100,000 per year, that’s three times the average industrial wage and a more than generous wage expectation for any government minister, semi-state CEO or senior civil servant.

“The current crisis has taught us that paying big bucks does not deliver top class semi-state chiefs’,  civil servants’ or government ministers’. Sinn Féin wants to once and for all end the culture of cronyism and greed still rife in public life and unlike the Labour Leader we lead by example.” ENDS

Note: Sinn Féin published its pre Budget submission last month, to download click on The document entitled ‘There is a better way’ is fully costed and endorsed by independent economists. It plans to cut the deficit by over €4.5 billion in 2011. Sinn Féin proposes a range of taxation measures aimed at high earners, the abolition of wastages in public spending and the transfer of €7 billion from the National Pension Reserve Fund for a 3.5 year state wide investment programme to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Two of the document’s Public Spending Savings
- Cap ministerial salaries at €100,000; TDs’ salaries at €75,000; and senators’ salaries at €60,000 – Saves €6 million
- Cap the maximum salary of public servants and employees in semi-state bodies at four times the entry rate (three times the average industrial salary) €100,000 – Saves €350 million

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stepping Up

The political establishment have a real talent for getting things wrong. Take the issue of sovereignty. In successive debates on EU treaties the ‘enlightened’ politicians comprehensively dismissed the value of managing our own affairs as a backward notion. They have their answer now. The EU and IMF are in town to pick over the carcass of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’. The political establishment are directly responsible for our economic convulsion, they have comprehensively failed to defend the interests of citizens.  A toxic blend of cronyism, cosy consensus and brazen self interest have been the hallmarks of politics in this state. The economy is broken, politics is broken and without radical action and change there is a danger that people’s spirit will be broken too. This is the political backdrop to Gerry Adams’s decision to stand for election in the Louth constituency.

Sinn Féin has argued for a radically different approach to the economic crisis than the other political parties. We don’t accept that the taxpayers should carry the can for bondholders who took a punt on Anglo Irish Bank. Their gamble failed and they must face the consequences of that failure. We don’t accept that sucking billions out of an already depressed economy is the way to recovery. Rushing to meet the arbitrary EU budgetary deadline of 2014 is foolish and dangerous. We don’t accept the policy of sitting on our hands in the hope of an international upturn to bring jobs. Investment and stimulus is an urgent priority and can be achieved with funds from the National Pension Reserve Fund. We will not accept cutbacks for those on low and middle incomes while the wealthy are taxed very lightly.  The party has produced a detailed, costed alternative to the smash and grab cutback agenda of the other parties. We have called on people to demand and work for a new economic and political direction.

In this time of crisis Gerry Adams could not credibly call on others to step forward, if he was not prepared to do so himself. He has been around politics- north and south - for a long time. He leads a national party with elected representatives in thirty one of the thirty two counties of Ireland.  His record in the complex, high stakes peace process reflects his calibre as a leader.  Without doubt he has a valuable contribution to make if the people of Louth elect him to the Dáil. It is no surprise that the political old guard and those who crave power at any cost have voiced their objection to Gerry running for election in Louth.

It will take courage and creativity to meet the challenges of changing Ireland. In re-building our economy, providing for our people and repairing our international reputation the ‘business as usual’ politics won’t cut it.  Sinn Féin represents a straight up challenge to the stultified politics in this state. We have a plan and a vision for our country. Gerry Adams is up for the challenge and at the next election he will lead a team of candidates who are up for it too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sinn Féin meet EU Commissioner and rule out Cosy Budget Consensus

Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald and her Dáil colleagues met with EU Commissioner Olli Rehn this morning to rule out signing up to the government, Fine Gael and Labour’s cosy budgetary consensus of cuts that target the low paid, unemployed and front line services such as education and health.

Speaking after the meeting Ms McDonald said: “The message Sinn Féin delivered to Olli Rehn this morning was very simple. Insisting that Ireland reduce its deficit from 32% to 3% in just four years is bonkers. Fine Gael and Labour’s support of the government’s 2014 deadline just goes to prove the extent of the political establishment’s cosy relationship. The only consensus that Sinn Féin is interested in is a consensus for recovery. Protecting the banks and high earners by targeting the low-paid, unemployed and front line services is not a plan Sinn Féin can or will sign up to.

“Sinn Féin is the only political party to publish in full its Budget proposals in advance of meeting Oli Rehn and also the only party to set out an honest and realistic timeline to reduce the budget deficit by 2016. Recovery and growth will collapse under the weight of the 2014 deadline. If Sinn Féin’s radical budgetary plans are not implemented then Ireland is on a road to nowhere. We will implement a Wealth Tax, we will cap public pay at €100,000 and we will use the National Pension Reserve Fund monies to invest in jobs instead of bailing out the banks. Fianna Fáil’s austerity model has failed absolutely. Fine Gael and Labour want to deliver more of the same.” ENDS

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mercedes Ministers response to crisis - let them eat cheese

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith’s announcement that lots of cheese will be made available to poor people this Christmas is a gesture even Marie-Antoinette would have blushed at on saying out loud.

Just last week our Mercedes Minister’s lined up in their top of the range chauffeur driven cars to discuss how much to tax the lowest paid and cut from social welfare payments. And just when you think the political elite of the country couldn’t possibly be any more disconnected Brendan Smith steps out of his ivory tower to feed cheese to the poor. You just couldn’t make up this kind of political gesture. Fianna Fáil and Green party Mercedes Ministers response to Ireland’s economic crisis – let them eat cheese!

Bizarrely this scheme is being funded by the European Commission. Maybe this is some sort of peace offering by Olli Rehn in advance of his trip to Dublin on Sunday during which he will copper fasten Fianna Fáil and the Green’s regressive budgetary plans to reduce the deficit to 3% by 2014. Perhaps the Agriculture Minister could extend his plans to asking the ESB will they accept cheese as payment on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of families who now unemployed, impoverished and indebted thanks to his government’s policies?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - High Court ruling signals time on government

Speaking from Dublin following Senator Pearse Doherty’s High Court victory against the government’s refusal to hold the Donegal South West by-election Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald said, “the writing is on the wall for Fianna Fáil and the Green’s. This government needs to step up by stepping down.”

“Now is the time to put equality, honesty, and radicalism back into Irish politics. The current economic crisis demands radically different solutions. Taxing the wealthy is a radical solution. Capping top public servants' wages is a radical solution. Cutting unemployment payments and taxing those on the lowest incomes is not radical – it’s despicable.

“Following Senator Doherty’s High Court victory this morning Sinn Féin’s TD’s immediately tabled a Dáil motion for the writ for the Donegal South-West by-election to be moved. But the ramifications of the High Court judgment go beyond forcing the government to hold a by-election seventeen months in the waiting. It is yet another damning indictment against this government’s administration of cronyism and self-interest. Fianna Fáil and the Green’s are currently white knuckle rafting with one simple objective, to keep their respective party kayaks afloat.

“No-one has confidence in this government, and the reality is with 4 outstanding by-elections and tumbling popularity polls Fianna Fáil and the Green’s have no legitimate mandate. The EU Commission is sending in Oli Rehn to Dublin on Sunday to oversee the states fiscal policy, the yield on Irish 10-year bonds is now up to a staggering 7.4%, the President of the High Court has today described the government’s refusal to hold the Donegal by-election as ‘unprecedented’ and everywhere you look ordinary people are organising against the government’s inequitable budgetary plans. The appetite for a change is rife and the time for that change in now.” ENDS

Thursday, October 28, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - Cowen needs to step up at EU summit

Speaking ahead of tonight’s EU leaders summit Mary Lou McDonald has criticised Taoiseach Brian Cowen for agreeing to the Commission’s budget deficit reduction deadline of 2014 noting, “Europe’s insistence that Ireland reduce it’s deficit from 32% to 3% in just four years is bonkers. Germany and France broke the Stability and Growth Pact during the boom years so how on earth can political leader or institution credibly expect any member state to deliver such a mammoth fiscal correction in the current crisis. Fine Gael and Labour’s support of the 2014 deadline yet again illustrates the cosy consensus of self-interest that has emerged amongst the political establishment. Agreeing to a deadline you accept cannot be met is also of course deeply dishonest.”

The Sinn Féin Vice President said: “As always the devil is in the detail and what lies behind the 2014 deadline is deeply worrying. It appears that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now structuring EU member states fiscal policies. Top of tonight’s agenda will be a call from the German’s to change existing EU treaties to make permanent a financial crisis mechanism for euro member states. Naturally there is a catch. The German Chancellor, with the support of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, wants the voting rights of any member state to be suspended if they breach EU budget rules.

“Sinn Féin will next week publish its budget 2011 proposals within which we set out an honest and realistic timeline to reduce the budget deficit by 2016. The 2014 deadline may suit Berlin’s balance sheet but surely even the EU Apparatchik’s must realise that any correction that stifles growth will deepen Ireland’s crisis.

“Also up for discussion will be the EU Commission’s ‘Single Market Act’ unveiled this week. It contains 50 or so proposals, including the Commission’s Directive for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) across the EU. The government with the support of Fine Gael and Labour has already surrendered any hope of growth in the Irish economy by agreeing to the EU’s 2014 deadline so how can we have any confidence that any of the three main political parties will not do the same when the EU finally enforces it’s plan to enforce a CCCTB on member states?” ENDS

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Are Where We Are

Pickets outside the Dáil are fairly commonplace these days so it was no surprise to see a small – but determined looking – group waving placards as I pulled in last week. The protester in chief, dressed in what can best be described as a Fidel Castro outfit, approached me. He started to sing ‘Hello Mary Lou’ – I know, I know, - through a loud hailer and handed me a CD. I took a closer look at the guy and glory be, it was none other than Paddy Cullivan from the Camembert Quartet – you know the group from RTE’s Tubridy Tonight. 
Paddy and his fellow Camemberts were protesting against the use of political clichés. The CD, called ‘We Are Where We Are’, is a collection of songs written about phrases that are used and abused by politicians and pundits. It was inspired, according to its makers, by Brian Cowen, the Commentariat, the Upper Class, Charlie Haughey and Eamon Gilmore.

The times that are in it are ripe for political satire. Paddy gets stuck in, sending up the inane phraseology of the day. It’s great craic.  

Going Forward’ is exposed as a linguistic formulation to distance politicians from the past – their past actions and decisions. ‘We Lost The Run Of Ourselves’, ‘We Are Living Way Beyond Our Means’ and ‘Shoulder To The Wheel’ are nailed as the blame-sharing language of the NAMA classes and their political bedfellows. The often parroted ‘We Are Where We Are’ cliché is shot down as language which shields politicians and pundits from the question ‘but how did we get here?

While I cannot vouch for the musical merit of the songs, ‘We Are Where We Are’ is a refreshing piece of political satire. It punctures the waffle of the puffed up, self-important cliques that have brought misery to the masses.

If Paddy is making another CD I suggest he adds ‘Anger Is Not A Policy’ to his hit list.

In the interests of safety don’t play this CD while driving. Laughter can cause accidents! 

This article is reproduced in An Phoblacht where Mary Lou McDonald has a regular column in the monthly publication. To subscribe just log on to

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - Time for government to drop it’s Mercs and Perks

Mary Lou McDonald has described as “ridiculous” Fianna Fáil Senator Donie Cassidy’s suggestion that politicians are experiencing a race to the bottom in terms of wages. Ms McDonald noted, “Senators, TDs and Ministers earn multiples of the average industrial wage. That is why Sinn Féin in it’s Budget 2011 proposals will call for a reduction in all politicians incomes including a 20% cut in TDs salaries and a 40% cut for Minister’s leaving cabinet members with a more than generous salary of €100,000 per year.”

Speaking from her Dublin Central constituency office the Sinn Féin Vice President said: “The irony of government Ministers arriving to Farmleigh in their Mercs to discuss cutting social welfare payments in the forthcoming budget is not lost on thousands of struggling families across the country.

“The government’s refusal to focus on job creation and growth since the crisis began continues to be a thorn in the side of economic recovery. History demonstrates that major financial crises are followed by a prolonged period of high unemployment. Yet Fianna Fáil and the Greens have pursued a simplistic austerity economic model that has served only to deepen the crisis and protract unemployment. It appears from the cabinet’s discussions in Farmleigh that little has changed. Attacking the low paid and unemployed and protecting the wealthy at all costs remains the order of the day

“Not surprisingly Labour and Fine Gael have joined the government parties in a cosy consensus that in order to grow a little you must cut a lot. Sinn Féin believes to grow at all you must first invest.  Addressing the deficit is just one pillar to economic recovery and the reality is that there are a myriad of fair measures to put monies back into the public purse. For example, standardising all discretionary tax reliefs and introducing a third tax rate of 48% on individual incomes in excess of €100,000 per year could raise over €1.5 billion. Sinn Féin also challenges the collective refusal by the cosy consensus to acknowledge the implications of the government’s banking policy on the public finances not just for 2011, but also for many budgets to come.

“Sinn Féin will launch its Budget submission over the coming weeks. It is a comprehensive progressive economic alternative that focuses on job creation, taxation justice, an end to wasteful expenditure and a sensible deficit reduction timeline. The people and economy deserve better than a reshuffling of bums on Dáil seats. Now is the time for honest, fair and innovative politics.” ENDS

Saturday, October 23, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - TDs salaries to be cut by 20% & Ministers by 40%

Mary Lou McDonald has this morning announced Sinn Féin’s plans to reduce TDs salaries by 20% and Ministers by 40% as outlined in the party’s pre-Budget submission to be published in the coming weeks.

The Sinn Fein Vice President said: “It is simply unacceptable for the government or indeed the ‘government in waiting’ to advocate massive cuts and a scaling down of public services to meet their 2014 budget deficit reduction deadline without themselves leading by example. That is why Sinn Féin’s Budget proposals will include significant cuts to Senator’s, TDs and Ministerial salaries.

“In our Budget proposals we will be calling for a cap on ministerial salaries at €100,000; TDs’ salaries at €75,000; and senators’ salaries at €60,000. Each salary cap remains a multiple of what the majority of employees earn across the sectors.

“Whilst this measure would save the Exchequer just €6 million euro it is a critically important signal to struggling families, the low paid and unemployed that Sinn Féin is serious in it’s commitment to fair play. This commitment is what sets us apart from the cosy consensus that has emerged between the government parties, Fine Gael and Labour.

“Sinn Féin will launch its Budget submission over the coming weeks. It is a comprehensive progressive economic alternative that focuses on job creation, taxation justice, an end to wasteful expenditure and a sensible deficit reduction timeline. The people and economy deserve better than a reshuffling of bums on Dáil seats. Sinn Féin’s way is better for the economy and for our people.” ENDS

Friday, October 22, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - People Power win’s battle for Seán McDermott Street’s public pool

Sinn Fein’s Dublin Central Representative Mary Lou McDonald has welcomed the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s commitment to fund the repair and operation of Séan McDermott Street’s public swimming pool subject to Dublin City Council (DCC) providing its portion of the necessary funding.

Ms McDonald said: “The success of the campaign to keep the pool open shows what ‘people power’ can achieve. Congratulations to the community for fighting so hard to keep Seán McDermott street swimming pool open.  It is now up to Dublin City Council to make sure that the extra funding is found for the pools’.

“The Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s has agreed to provide €600,000 to DCC to assist in the repair and operation of three public swimming pools in Coolock, Crumlin and Seán McDermott Street on the condition that DCC allocate the remaining €700,000 required in the 2011 Budget. 

“The responsibility for keeping these important public amenities open now lies squarely with Dublin City Councillors when negotiating the city’s Budget in the next few weeks. We cannot have a repeat of last year’s Budget fiasco when Labour and Fine Gael supported a budget that specifically targeted inner city communities with cuts resulting in the closure for the three public pools. The government has stepped up, hopefully Fine Gael and Labour will too.”

To keep in touch with Mary Lou just log on to… Lou McDonald

Thursday, October 21, 2010

ESRI place uncomfortable spotlight on government, Labour and Fine Gael’s commitment to 2014 deadline

Today’s ESRI Quarterly Economic Commentary has thrown an uncomfortable spotlight on the cosy consensus view amongst the government parties, Fine Gael and Labour that Ireland must reduce its budget deficit to 3% by 2014. Like Sinn Féin the Institute has recommended extending the deadline to 2016.

The report also sends a serious signal to the international community that Ireland is ready to face up to its problems. Sinn Féin is the only party to argue that the 2014 budget deficit reduction would stifle growth and deepen the unemployment crisis. Sinn Féin has consistently and calmly argued for a more realistic target of 2016. Labour and Fine Gael have fully supported the government’s sleeveen approach of agreeing to the 2014 deadline in the full knowledge that it cannot and will not be achieved. This is exactly the type of bankrupt politicking that has brought Ireland to its knees.

Year on year since the economic crisis began the government has rigidly stuck to its austerity model whilst indebting future generations by pumping tens of billions into Anglo, a bank with no systemic value to the Irish economy. As far back as 2008 Sinn Féin published a policy document advocating an economic stimulus model to halt Ireland’s spiralling unemployment and promote growth. Each year in advance of the Budget we have presented to government costed alternative economic plans based on job creation, taxation justice, and end to wasteful expenditure and a sensible deficit reduction timeline.

EU Economic Commissioner Oli Rehn’s reaction to the ESRI report was informative. He stated through his Spokesperson that ‘only the EU Council can change the four year target’. Earlier this week Angela Merkal and Nicolas Sarkozy stood shoulder to shoulder in their demand for a revision of EU Treaties so as to install permanent measures to ensure peripheral member states manage their finances as told by larger states such as France and Germany. Their “Deauville Declaration” goes so far as to demand the EU suspend voting rights of member states who breach budget rules. On Monday EU Finance Ministers at a Budget Review agreed new procedures to impose financial sanctions on government’s who ‘persistently’ breech EU budget rules.

What is deeply worrying about his response is that the current Irish government along with the Fine Gael and Labour ‘government in waiting’ has completely surrendered to the EU’s budget reduction deadline of 2014 and thus it’s one size fits all fiscal management model.

Of course such a massive submission makes absolutely no sense for Ireland’s economy. It may suit Berlin’s balance sheet but surely even the EU Apparatchik’s must realise that without growth Ireland cannot pull itself out of the current crisis. It is also a little painful to listen to Merkel and Sarkozy dictate how EU financial support should be managed in the context that it is their banks history of reckless lending that fuelled much of the financial crisis in Europe. Sinn Féin is not afraid to put its head above the parapet and say stop to the EU nor are we alone is our analysis that growth based on job creation must be any government’s number one objective when making budgetary decisions.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - FÁS to close Cabra Training Centre next month

Sinn Féin Dublin Central Representative and Vice President Mary Lou McDonald has described FÁS’s decision to close it’s Cabra Training Centre at the end of November as unjustifiable, and she has called on the Minister for Education and Skills to immediately intervene to ensure FÁS reverses it’s decision. 

Ms McDonald added: “At a time when the government's strategy should be to increase its investment in training and up-skilling of workers it is unjustifiable that FÁS has decided to shut down it’s only Training Centre between Dublin 1 and Navan town. I challenge FÁS Director General Paul O’Toole to come out this evening and justify reducing desperately needed training places when nearly half a million people are unemployed. This decision needs to be reversed and Mary Coughlan as the Minister responsible for FÁS needs to make it her business to do so.

“Hundreds of current students who attend day and night courses at the Centre on Bannow Road will be adversely affected as will the many thousands more who will need its services over the coming months and years. If the government and FÁS are truly committed to ending the current jobs crisis then they need to put their money where their mouth is and reverse this crazy decision.” ENDS

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There is something seriously wrong when a government will go to any lengths to prevent elections

The government is dead set against a general election. It would be a ‘distraction’, they say, from ‘the job in hand’. They don’t want to be ‘distracted’ from their bailouts for the bankers- cutbacks for the people agenda.

They don’t want to hold elections to fill the empty seats in Donegal South West, Waterford and Dublin South either. The ‘distraction’ of losing those bye-elections could bring the government down.

Avoiding elections is an expensive business. It cost €9000 to transport junior minister Dara Calleary from Brussels to the Dáil to vote against holding the bye-elections. He travelled by government jet and the taxpayer picked up the tab. 

Today the government goes into the High Court to defend their refusal to hold the bye-elections. Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty took the case. He believes that no government has the right to withhold people’s democratic right to vote and to have full representation in the Dáil. He’s right.

There is something seriously wrong when a government will go to any lengths to prevent elections. 

The government, Labour and Fine Gael have an agreed position to introduce crushing cutbacks over the next four years. Brian Cowen and company now want to formalise that consensus so they’ve invited like-minded parties to talks. 

The Taoiseach’s decision to exclude Sinn Féin from discussions because we oppose those cuts shows that the Government is not willing to listen to any alternative opinion.

Politicians talking among themselves is no substitute for an election. 

The scale of our economic problems, the length of the dole queues and the staggering numbers emigrating – these are the reasons why the government is running scared of elections. They are the very same reasons why an election is so necessary.

We need an agreed way forward. A way forward democratically agreed by the electorate. After all it is the people who are in charge here.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - Increase in child homelessness horrific

Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald has described the revelation that child homelessness has increased by 60% over the last 3 years as horrific. “Just last week two former members of The Commission of Taxation said that €2.5 billion could be saved in reforming or abolishing just 131 of the existing tax breaks. So we have a situation where child homelessness is increasing while Fianna Fáil and the Green’s continue to protect the richest in society. Whatever the rhetoric, they have no real interest in protecting vulnerable children in society.”
Speaking from her constituency office in Dublin Central Ms. McDonald said: “Of course neither the HSE nor its bosses in the Department of Health and Children have taken any responsibility for the dramatic increase in child homelessness, most of whom are in the greater Dublin area. By 2004 child homelessness had fallen to 495 but by 2009 that figure had increased to nearly 800 with a quarter of these being children under the age of 12.
“It is unacceptable that a single child in our society should be denied the right to a roof over their head. It is particularly galling in the context that Fianna Fáil and the Greens, with the support of Fine Gael and Labour, are intent on savaging front line services and supports over the next four years whilst as much as €11.4 billion continues to be lost to the exchequer each year through the various tax reliefs.
“During my time in the European Parliament I secured majority support from MEPs to end street homelessness throughout the EU by 2015, enabling the European Parliament to actively pressure all European institutions and member states to deliver on the 2015 commitment. Fianna Fáil and the Greens have no commitment to protecting our most vulnerable children, and if Labour and Fine Gael continue to support the government’s failed plan to reduce the deficit to 3% by 2014 through cuts of up to €4 billion or more each year then clearly they have commitment to end child homelessness either. Sinn Féin is now the only party offering a real alternative to the cosy cartel in Leinster House, an alternative that can literally keep the roof over children’s heads.” ENDS

Thursday, October 14, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT - Dublin City Council & VEC yet to make a single student grant payment

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has this afternoon expressed outrage on learning that Dublin City Council and VEC have yet to make a single grant payment to students.

The Dublin Central representative went on to say: “I simply cannot believe that Dublin City Council and VEC believe it is right or appropriate to not make a single grant payment to our most vulnerable third level students despite the academic year being well under way.

“According to the Union of Students in Ireland’s figures there are 26 VEC’s and 16 Local Authorities yet to make a single payment to grant applicants. That Dublin City Council and VEC are among those yet to pay out is an absolute scandal.

“Students who apply for grant assistance are clearly struggling therefore they depend heavily on this financial assistance. For many late grant payments make continuing in college impossible. If the Minister for Education is truly committed to a fair and first class third level education system then she needs to stop punishing the states most vulnerable students by once and for all addressing this perennial problem of late student grant payments.

“Sinn Féin is calling on the Minister to immediately facilitate a review of the existing backlog that exists in Dublin City Council and VEC, to allocate temporary staff to process applications and make the necessary payments. The Minister also needs to issue an urgent directive to all third level institutions in Dublin ordering temporary registrations of all grant applicants in order to allow students to participate fully in their courses. Of course ultimately the government needs to stop faffing about and implement the Student Support Bill which has been stopped in its tracks since 2008.” ENDS

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Press Statement - Pyrite found in Dublin City Council homes

Dublin City Council (DCC) has confirmed the presence of pyrite in a number of its social housing units in Ballbough following a question put to the city Manager by Sinn Féin. Mary Lou McDonald has criticised management for taking an unreasonable amount of time to complete its initial findings, “The families affected in Ballbough first raised this issue with the Council over a year ago, and despite their efforts the Council has yet to even tell them that it has found pyrite in their homes.”

The Dublin Central Representative went on to say: “The Council’s response to their own findings has been lack lustre to say the least. They tell me that ‘further investigation will be required and additional sampling and testing will be scheduled in the near future.’

The homes affected have been built in recent years at the cost of 6.9 million euro, so unless the pyrite-related defects are tackled quickly the scale of the problem will worsen significantly. I am also deeply concerned that the developer responsible is still building for Dublin City Council, yet I get no sense of urgency from management on this issue.

“The health and safety of Dublin City Council tenants is at stake. I am absolutely dumbfounded that DCC is not moving hell and high water to tackle the pyrite-related damage to existing homes and ensure no future builds experience the same problems.” ENDS

Monday, October 4, 2010

Press Statement - DCC must reverse decision to sack regeneration workers

 Speaking ahead of tonight’s monthly Dublin City Council (DCC) meeting Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has called on the city’s management to reverse it’s decision to effectively sack Croke Villas, Dominick Street and O’Devaney Garden’s regeneration workers. A motion calling for the same is before the council tonight. Ms McDonald has described the workers as “the glue that keeps these communities together.” 

These workers are a vital resource during the demolition and construction phases of regeneration as they ensure their communities are informed at every stage of the project. Community confidence in DCC’s commitment to actually deliver these regeneration projects is low and this belief is now compounded by management’s decision to withdraw funding for what are moderate salaries of around €17,000 per worker.

DCC management’s claim that it is an appropriate time to discontinue funding for the workers as the projects are proceeding to the planning stage does not hold water as the Housing Project Management Unit of DCC has already acknowledged the decision is a budgetary one.

The Dublin Central representative has also sharply criticised DCC for reneging on its commitment to redevelop Croke Villas despite having already spent nearly €6 million of public monies on the project. “I am absolutely furious for the people of Croke Villa’s who have basically been sold a pig in a poke.

“DCC management’s decision is shortsighted. It sends a desperately negative message to these communities who have had plans for decent housing continuously put on the long finger.

“For the families in Croke Villas it is simply devastating. Their living conditions remain morally scandalous as no progress has been made on regeneration despite millions of public monies having been spent on property acquisition for the project. Is the Council now giving this community a bum’s rush?

“How galling must it be for the 22 families left in Croke Villas to see the government’s rush to bail out wealthy Anglo bondholders yet be told there’s now no money in the bank to sort out the shamefully poor conditions residents are being forced to live in.” ENDS

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It’s time for politicians drunk on power to sober up

First it was Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s performance on RTE radio - was he hoarse or hungover? Then a Fine Gael TD, the worse for wear, threatening a young Garda- using the ‘mind your manners we’ll be in power soon’ line. The ‘demon drink’ has been front and centre in political debate. As a man in Ballybough put it  ‘what in the name of jaysus are they at?’ Good question.
Almost half a million people are unemployed. In Dublin one in eight people are jobless. The state is struggling to borrow money, at very high interest rates, to keep the show on the road. Huge cutbacks have been introduced and there’s more to come in the December budget.  We are in big trouble.
The government is in the land of make believe, fingers crossed, wishing all of this would go away. It won’t. This crisis is for real and it needs to be faced up to.
No amount of government spoof or spin can hide the fact that they have chosen bankers over citizens. Allowing Anglo Irish to suck the life out of the economy, cripple services and force the state to borrow at sky high rates is madness.
Citizens are on the receiving end of a very bad deal. The government has no mandate for this madness. They were elected in 2007 on the promise that the ‘good times’ would keep on rolling – on a ‘trust us we know what we’re doing’, message. It is now clear that they were not to be trusted. Having made a hash of the boom time this crowd are now leading the way to ruin.
So where do we go from here? To begin with we need to see the back of Anglo Irish bank. It needs to be wound down and its toxic debt taken off the state’s balance sheet.  We need to stop hacking away with cutback after cutback to services and welfare payments. Sucking billions from the economy year after year will cause huge hardship and wreck our chance of economic recovery.  We need a plan for jobs. This is the absolute priority.
If you listen to many ‘opposition’ politicians you’ll notice that they are heavy on condemning the government but very light on offering alternatives. Listen carefully and you’ll hear them say that they’ll do the same things - only differently.  Figure that one out!
Sinn Féin is the only party that has not signed up for billions of cuts each year until 2014. We were the first and most consistent in bringing forward ideas to protect and create jobs. We’ve argued for years – when it wasn’t fashionable – for a state bank, run for the benefit of families and enterprise and not to line the pockets of the fat cats.
This year once again we will make a detailed, costed, pre-budget submission. We’ll argue for fairness, for jobs and services. We won’t run away from the tough questions – on how to raise money, on how to gain efficiencies, on fair taxation.
The crisis is real and gombeen, stroke politics is huge part of the problem. It’s time for those politicians drunk on power to sober up, to shape up. It’s time for the people to have their say.
This article is reproduced in An Phoblacht where Mary Lou McDonald has a regular column in the monthly publication. To subscribe just log on to

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Europe Makes Its Move On Corporation Tax: Quelle Surprise!!!

I rubbed my eyes is disbelief when I read that the EU Commissions is ploughing ahead with the introduction of a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) for member states - well not really!  I did curse though. The government, Fine Gael, Labour, IBEC, the ‘great and good’ swore blind during both Lisbon Treaty debates that an EU consolidated corporate tax base would never happen. So much for their word. It is happening now.
For those of us who campaigned against giving more powers to Europe there’s no surprise in this. When I raised this very issue at the EU Affairs Oireachtas Committee I was told - point blank – that I was wrong. When French Economics Minister Christine Lagarde publically stated in advance of the first Lisbon Treaty referendum that France would push for a CCCTB during its 2008 EU Presidency Eamon Gilmore described her comments as ‘arrogant and patronising’. Well, after all the hot air, the score stands Lagarde - 1, Gilmore – 0.
The truth, for those grown-up enough to calmly discuss the issue, is that the Commission has been working on the introduction of a CCCTB since 2001. The EU has to varying degrees already consolidated economic, social and monetary policies, so taxation is just a further step towards deeper integration of member states.
EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta, anticipating any resistance to his plans, has stated that if member states do not sign up a CCCTB he is prepared to invoke an enhanced co-operation procedure. In other words, the Commission will push this issue and no veto will stand in their way. The much-lauded Lisbon ‘guarantee’ on corporation tax won’t protect this state from the consequences of the CCTB. 
Those advocating a common corporate tax base say it is not the rate that will be harmonised; but how the tax is calculated. A case of ‘you say tomatoes and I say tomatoes’ if you ask me. 
The EU has Ireland over a barrel. The country is broke, billions are being lost to Anglo’s black hole and the ECB is the only taker when it comes to Irish bonds. The bigger member states are eager to finalise a CCCTB for Europe and Ireland cannot stop them.
Government, Fine Gael and Labour politicians were talking through their hats on this issue. The Lisbon jobs never materialized either – more on that from me soon.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

There is an alternative to this rotten government

Each year Sinn Féin presents to government the party’s pre-Budget submission. As Ireland’s fortunes have changed significantly over the last two years December’s budget has become an important day of the year, particularly for the least well off in our society as they face cuts in critical supports and services and the double whammy of an increase in inequitable stealth taxes.

Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats’ right wing agenda coupled with their fiscal recklessness during Ireland’s boom years hardened the collapse of our economy. The Green’s have compounded the states public finance deficit and double-digit unemployment figures by signing off on Fianna Fáil’s golden circle policy approach. Or maybe they have just found their political home in a Fianna Fáil led government!

Fianna Fáil was so beholden to those within it golden circle it decided to nationalise the worst bank in the history of the state. Anglo Irish Bank has cost the Irish people 22 billion euro to date with rating agency Standard Poor’s recently estimating that the total cost of bailing out the bank will rise to 35 billion euro.

But it is not enough for those of us in political opposition to bemoan the horrific failings of this government; we need to present our political and fiscal alternatives to the people. And that is what we in Sinn Fein have done each year with a particular focus on job creation since the collapse of the economy in 2008. We are currently working on our Budget 2011 submission, which will be published and submitted to government in advance of budget day on December 7th.

Click on the below links to download Sinn Féin Job Creation strategy document and our 2010 Budget submission to government. In these document’s you will find sensible viable alternatives to the government’s budget decisions including a range of tax revenue measures and proposals to address wasteful spending of public monies.

Sinn Féin Job Creation and Retentions Strategy

Sinn Féin pre Budget Submission 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Underground DART Project - My submission to An Bord Pleanála

It's all about the Big 3 C's - Consultation, Consideration & Commonsense...

Last week I presented a submission to An Bord Pleanála outlining my concerns regarding the impact of the underground DART project on the East Wall, North Wall and Docklands Communities.

Click here to download my submission 
Improvements to the public transport infrastructure for Dublin and beyond are overdue and welcome. The DART Underground project is ambitious, representing a huge investment by the state to improve the connectivity and capacity of the public transport system.

My submission has focused primarily on the Eastern portal- Docklands section of the project, though some of the commentary is of relevance to the overall project and in particular those residential areas that will be impacted by the project.

The Railway Order application envisages that all works would be completed within a ten year timeframe. The scale of the construction works and the timeframe envisaged offer an indication of how intrusive this project will be on the lives of residents.

My submission details the primary concern's of local residents and their families. The suggestions and considerations contained within are reasonable and based on common sense. Dubliner's have historically been treated badly during major development projects and much of their daily hardship during these big build's could have been avoided with proper consultation and consideration prior to works beginning.

Have a read of my submission and if you have any additional points of concern please drop me a mail to

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fianna Fáil brings arse-about-face politics to an art form

Seánie Fitzpatrick is on his uppers. The one-time darling of Celtic Tiger Ireland and the political establishment has hit rock bottom. Sympathy for Seánie - chief bottle washer at the toxic and now state-owned Anglo Irish Bank - is in short supply. He may have fallen but he has brought everyone with him. And he may be bankrupt but luckily he has his wife's €3.6million to fall back on. Yes, 'just' €3.6 million. Don't you know times are tough?

Seánie's pal's in government also stare bankruptcy in the face. They met in Farmleigh House to consider how best to cut another €3billion in the December budget. One minister described the meeting as 'workman-like'. Now there's a choice of words!

The government is fairly relaxed about the unemployment figures. They're not going to break a sweat about increasing family debt or home repossession’s. Government Ministers are almost dismissive of the tens of thousands of new Irish emigrant’s. They carry on about their business, sucking billions from the citizens and sinking billions into a zombie bank. The state's coffers may be bare but the leading lights in government have the 'mercs and perks' to cushion them from the bitter realities of recession.

Is there even one amongst them who understands what it is to stretch a euro, to worry about a bill, to miss the rent, to miss an emigrant son or daughter? Do they grasp what despair can do to people? Taxi drivers recently gathered in the Phoenix Park - not in Farmleigh House but outside Áras an Uachtaráin to hold a vigil remembering colleagues who had died by suicide. Their industry, like others, is in a bad way. Drivers are struggling to make ends meet. For some, the struggle was too much. The 25% increase in death by suicide last year has been linked to the economic downturn. This is a tragic measure of just how bad things have got. The government have no answers and no shame. They have brought arse-about-face politics to an art form.

The Minister for Social Protection cuts welfare entitlements. The Minister for Health cuts services for sick and disabled. The Minister for Finance lands the taxpayer with tens of billions of debt. And, as for the Minister for Employment, well there is none.

For Seánie and the very rich the recession will come and go. Government cuts won't hurt their lifestyle. For the rest, the majority who live outside the Golden Circle, the economics crisis has hit hard. The government is politically bankrupt. They cannot even provide what people need most right now. Hope.

This article is reproduced in An Phoblacht where Mary Lou McDonald has a regular column in the monthly publication. To subscribe just log on to

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Labour to go into coalition with Fine Gael. Hello! Why?

So Eamon Gilmore has ruled out going into government with Fianna Fáil but stated twice in the same interview with Irish Times Political Correspondent Harry McGee that coalition between Labour and Fine Gael is the most likely outcome after the next election. What is Éamon at? Why on earth would he set the bar so low? Putting Fine Gael into government may change the bums on the Cabinet seats (pun intended!) but the economic and social decisions made will be much the same. It was the Spanish American philosopher and author George Santayana who famously said ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. But it is his assertion that ‘habit is stronger than reason’ that offers some guidance in trying to rationalise Labour’s decision on its desired government partners.

The depth of anger felt by ordinary people across the state towards the government is palpable. The cry for an end to the madness of bailing out Anglo could not be any louder and the disastrous consequences of Fianna Fáil/Green Party cuts could not be worse felt. The proverbial ‘dogs on the streets’ know that we need a radical shift in politics. Business as usual won’t cut it - things are too far gone for that. So why is Éamon so timid? So depressingly predictable in his willingness to put the blueshirts – and the jaded politics of the same old same old - into the Taoiseach’s Office?

Labour were very much part of the auction politics that disastrously framed the 2007 general election, and dismissed Sinn Féin’s election call for the need to stabilise taxes and to curtail the property bubble. Now Éamon is supporting the government’s line (chiming perfectly with Fine Gael) that we need additional cuts in Budget 2011 to the tune of 3 billion - in an effort to reduce the deficit to 3% of GDP by 2014 as instructed by the EU. The reality is that this deadline will not be met, nor does it need to be. ICTU has been arguing this case for some time now, along with a number of leading economists. Getting people back to work must be the central objective of any government budget strategy at this time. In order to do this we need to spend money. As TASC recently argued, ‘In sort, government spending more than pays for itself - it provides a positive net return to the exchequer. And the opposite is the case; decreased government spending in a slump depresses total demand and so lowers tax revenues and increases welfare payments (even when welfare entitlements are cut).’

So why has Éamon bought into the government cut and snip dogma? Why are Labour so besotted with Fine Gael? Come back from the dark side Labour! Join Sinn Féin in leading a real political alternative for change. Anyway Eamon, I suspect you’d make a lousy golfer and sure the K-Club mightn’t even let you in!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

DCC's plan to rezone land in Cabra for residential development is just crazy

The Northside People have reported this week on resident's anger over Dublin City Council's plan's to rezone land owned by the Dominican Sisters in Cabra for residential development. My own view is that it's a crazy proposal. Residents already have major challenges with traffic in the area as I know all too well having lived in the area. In any event available green green space must be used for leisure and sporting activities, amenities that benefit the existing community. As the paper notes Councillors have until the end of July to consider the manager’s report. Sinn Féin will be opposing the plan and I hope the other city Councillors see sense. Just click on the link below to have a read of the Northside People's report.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dublin City Council management agree to keep Sean McDermott Street Pool open... For now

Following a meeting with Sinn Féin this evening Dublin City Council management have confirmed that Sean McDermott Street swimming pool will be kept open for the remainder of the year, but have refused to guarantee the pool’s future for the longer term. Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has criticised Labour, Fine Gael and Independent Councillors who supported the city budget responsible for creating so much uncertainty about the pool’s future.
Sinn Féin Councillors voted against this years annual Dublin City budget as it contained austere cuts that would hit working class communities hardest. We were particularly disappointed that Independent and Labour Councillors supported such an inequitable budget. Targeting inner city areas for cuts in critical service provisions simply does not make sense on any level. Yet this is exactly what Labour has done by supporting this year’s budget. Shutting down sporting outlets for kids and adults in deprived areas is just crazy and it is hard to understand how a party of the left can rationalise this kind of decision.

The future of Sean McDermott Street pool has been secured for the short term but this issue will come before Councillors again at the end of the year when next years budget will be debated and voted on. I urge Labour Councillors to reflect on the impact of the budget on inner city communities and to ensure that they do not vote again in favour of a budget that impact’s so negatively on inner city communities.

The least well off in Irish society are paying the harshest price for the financial mismanagement of the public purse by the government. Dublin City Council, with the support of Labour & Fine Gael, must not add to this wrong by penny pinching in all the wrong places!

Monday, June 28, 2010

HSE cuts target Sancta Maria & Ard Cuan

The HSE have introduced cuts of €4million and the loss of 56 staff across the Daughters of Charity services for people with disabilities. The Sancta Maria respite service on the Navan Road, is set to be cut by 45% while the Ard Cuan respite house in Cabra is facing immediate closure.  Occupational therapy, speech and language and physiotherapy services will also be cut.

The HSE and Health Minister, Mary Harney, have introduced these vicious cuts without a minutes thought for service users and their families. During the boom time government considerably underfunded disability services. Now, in recession, these services are to be decimated. This is an outrage. I challenge Mary Harney to face the families who depend on these services. Instead of hiding behind the HSE the Minister should pay a visit to the real world and shoulder her responsibilities to those she is supposed to serve.

The Daughters of Charity service was forced to close the De Paul swimming pool - which catered for people with disabilities - last year due to lack of funding. Services now face further cuts and closure. I fully support the parents and families of service users in their campaign to have these cuts reversed and urge everyone who wants decent treatment for those with disabilities to support their protest outside the Dáil on Tuesday (29th June).

Messages of support for the campaign can be emailed to 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Members and supporters of the Smithfield Amateur Boxing Club who were looked out of their training facilities in CBS North Brunswick Street by the school's board of management. The club has gone from strength to strength since it was first established in 2008. There will be a demonstration every evening this week outside the school. I've spoken to Dublin City Council and the schools board of management. The club needs its training facilities and we in the inner city community are not going to take this one lying down!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Did you know that the world’s largest swimming pool is in Chile?

Great night had by all in Cleary’s pub last night. Much needed funds were raised for the campaign to save Seán MacDermott Street swimming pool.  Did you know that the world’s largest swimming pool is in Chile? I didn’t till last night.

The campaign is going well but not won yet. The protest at City Hall on Monday evening will start at 6pm. A Sinn Féin emergency motion demanding funds to save the swimming pools will be debated. Let's keep the pressure up!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Myself & the East Wall ladies on route to the 2010 women's mini marathon (before the terrible rain!). Huge thanks to all who supported us in raising funds for a much needed wheelchair accessible bus for the Seán O'Casey Community Centre. Onwards & upwards.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fianna Fáil & the Green's must stop cruel cuts and tackle jobs crisis instead

The Star kindly carried an article of mine this week on the governments proposals to cut further lone parents and social welfare payments. Text of it is below. Have a read and let me know what you think.....

This Government has some cheek. They have wrecked the economy and brought the state to its knees. Of course they won’t take any responsibility for this. Having already cut welfare payments, including the Christmas bonus, they are back again pointing the finger of blame at people on social welfare.

Over the last twelve months the dole queues have swelled. People who have lost jobs have had their incomes and lives shattered. Offers of work are few and far between.

The Minister for ‘Social Protection’ is now waving the big stick at people who are out of work. ‘Get out to work or we’ll cut your benefits’ is the message from Eamon O Cuiv TD and his well paid government cronies. I wonder how Eamon O Cuiv TD, or the rest of them, would get by on €200 a week?

They want us to believe that the thousands who have lost their jobs don’t really want to work or to take up training. This is the same crowd who have failed to come up with any plan to keep people at work or to generate new jobs or to provide training and apprenticeships.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Everyone needs decent work, to pay their way and provide for their families. No one should be left in poverty traps, relying on welfare for their income. That is not acceptable. The latest cuts in welfare aren’t really aimed at getting people back to work.

Having a go at the unemployed and lone parents is the Governments way of distracting attention from their own failures – typical sleveen politics.

We need a job creation plan – proposals from Sinn Fein and others can point a way forward. We need training and childcare supports to get people back to work. We need these things now. The Government should lay off people struggling on welfare and use their energies to put right the mess they are responsible for.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Great community demo against uncertain future for Seán McDermott Street swimming pool

There was a fantastic atmosphere at this evening's community demonstration against the proposed closure of the Seán McDermott Street swimming pool. The kids were out in force and gave the chants great welly. Dublin City Council have said they will keep the pool (along with the pools in Crumlin and Coolock) open for the summer which is goods news but its not good enough. Families need a long term commitment that this valuable resource to the inner city will remain open. The local turnout for this evening's protest is a testament to the value and well being the pool brings to the community.

What really ticks me off is that the least well off in Irish society continue to pay the harshest price for the financial mismanagement of the public purse by Fianna Fáil and of course it's ridiculous commitment to throwing good money after bad into Anglo Irish Bank. Dublin City Council must not add to this wrong by penny pinching in all the wrong places. Good on the community for tonight's demo. Onwards and upwards, and we'll keep our pools open.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

McDonald welcomes new Ballybough Community Centre

The new Ballybough Community Centre has opened and is named after the late Tony Gregory TD. Yesterday's opening was a really terrific event and evidence, as if evidence is needed, of why we need to continue investing in local communities. Government cut backs to funding for centres and services such as the one here in Ballybough are short sighted and counter productive. The new centre and indeed the spirit of the of the north inner city community is a tribute to Tony's memory and all he achieved. Ádh mór Ballybough.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quinn Insurance

Quinn Insurance and the Quinn Group in general are major employers in Ireland.  We are currently in the midst of a jobs crisis and the Government has its head in the sand on the issue.

We cannot afford anymore job losses and therefore the administration process at Quinn Insurance must prioritise the maintenance of jobs and their viability into the future.

Quinn workers protest at Leinster House

Youth Unemployment is a problem for everyone

One in four young people are now unemployed. At the start of 2010 the number of those unemployed under the age of 25 in the Twenty-Six Counties had reached 85,000, an increase of almost 150% in a year. Young men are worst affected, with one in three men under the age of 25 now being out of work.

Welfare payments for young people have been slashed and it is estimated that 60,000 people emigrated in the last year.
The government clearly has no strategy to keep young people in Ireland and use their skills to rebuild the economy. 

Sinn Féin believes that if the government doesn’t act to tackle soaring youth unemployment, this will have huge implications for the economy and for society into the future.  

canvassing on youth unemployment at the weekend

Sinn Féin’s proposals to deal with unemployment among young people include:
  • A youth jobs fund to create 20,000 new jobs at a cost of €500 million;
  • An individual plan for the long term prospects of every person under 25 who is on the live register;
  • 2,000 places on a ‘One More Language Scheme’ to give the young unemployed a chance to learn an extra foreign language at a cost of €20million;
  • 5,000 free ECDL advanced places at a cost of €25 million;
  • 10,000 new CE places at a cost of €168 million;
  • 1,000 places on conversion courses at third level to help graduates convert their skills to potential growth sectors at a cost of €15 million;
  • 8 measures to treble the number of under 25’s who are self employed including a national entrepreneurship programme, access to credit and greater support for high potential start ups;
  • Create a publicly owned green tech firm for Ireland and initiate a major drive to attract FDI in renewable energy at a cost of €100 million;
  • Make Ireland a digital media leader through support for skills, infrastructure and entrepreneurship;
  • A ‘National Development Scheme’ to employ people directly on public works projects employing 2,000 workers at a cost of approx €100 million;