Latest News – Fianna Fáil The Republican Party Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:35:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dooley concerned by transatlantic flight cancellations from Shannon Airport Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:35:28 +0000 Local Clare TD, Timmy Dooley has said that recent scheduling decisions by Aer Lingus have caused significant hassle for nearly 1000 passengers, and potentially damaged the reputation of Shannon Airport.

“Earlier this month, Aer Lingus cancelled six trans-Atlantic flights from Shannon, and re-scheduled them to depart from Dublin Airport,” said Dooley.

“This is simply not acceptable. The management at Shannon Airport Authority are doing their best to promote the airport, and enhance the services on offer to passengers who want to fly from the airport.”

“Aer Lingus cancelling, and rescheduling flights from Shannon to Dublin, does nothing but damage the reputation of the airport, and reduce people’s confidence in the services being offered at Shannon,” said the Fianna Fáil TD.

“I will be writing to the management of Aer Lingus asking them to clarify why these flights were rescheduled, and whether they expect this to be an ongoing issue.”

“This cannot happen again. Every flight and every passenger is crucial to Shannon Airport. Aer Lingus need to commit to Shannon,” concluded Dooley.

Martin questions Taoiseach on life-saving CF drug Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:25:00 +0000 Fianna Fáil Leader, and Cork South Central TD, Micheál Martin today (19th October) questioned the Taoiseach on why the Orkambi drug has not been approved for full use by the HSE by people living with Cystic Fibrosis.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Martin said:

“Orkambi is the first drug to impact on the underlying cause of Cystic Fibrosis for up to 50% of people living with the condition in Ireland.”

“It has been shown to produce both a reduction in the worsening of CF requiring hospital admissions and a sustained increase in lung function and weight.”

“Orkambi has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US. Is the Government still committed to giving CF patient’s access to Orkambi?

Following the debate, the Fianna Fáil Leader added:

“Many people living with Cystic Fibrosis have been waiting over two years to gain access to this life-saving drug.”

“Some who are currently using it are concerned that their access under the compassionate access scheme may be revoke. This cannot be allowed happen.”

“The Taoiseach informed me that a process is underway whereby the HSE, the pharmaceutical company and the clinicians are discussing the best way forward. This must be expedited as quickly as possible.”

“Situations such as with Orkambi, and with other high-tech drugs, need to be dealt with, and funded, via a separate fund, from the health budget,” added Martin.

“Longer term, we need to look at how we can reduce the overall cost of these types of drugs. Perhaps the HSE could look to bulk buy Orkambi with other EU country health providers to ensure price reductions, based on volume, can be obtained.”

“Whatever happens, people on Orkambi, and people who can benefit from the drug, should not lose it. Lives have been improved and saved. That’s what the HSE needs to keep top of mind when it comes to making decisions,” concluded Martin.

FG repeat dishonest spin on mental health funding – Browne Thu, 20 Oct 2016 17:04:44 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne TD has accused the Government of reneging on its promise to provide €35m in funding for mental health services in 2017.

Deputy Browne has supported the call made by Mental Health Reform for a review of the funding allocation for mental health services in 2017.

“Last week Minister for Health Simon Harris indicated that €35m would be invested in mental health services next year. However less than a week later Minister of State for Mental Health Helen McEntee outlined that just €15m of the allocation would be spent in 2017,” said Deputy Browne.

“The Government has essentially halved the funding earmarked for mental health services next year. This is despite the fact that there has been significant under-investment in mental health services in recent years. Staffing levels in child and adolescent services are currently 48% below recommended levels, while staffing levels across the board are 21% below target.

“Significant work is needed to bring our mental health services up to standard. This cannot be achieved without adequate funding. Currently the Government is planning to increase mental health funding by a measly 1.6% in 2017, as opposed to a 7.4% funding increase across the health sector. This clearly shows that mental health services simply are not a priority for Fine Gael.

“I support the call made by Mental Health Reform for a urgent review of funding for mental health services in 2017. Fianna Fáil remains committed to fully implementing the ‘Vision for Change’ roadmap for mental health services. The Government should bring forward a multi-annual service plan for the mental health sector in order to achieve this.”

Fleming welcomes movement on home deposit rules Thu, 20 Oct 2016 11:56:26 +0000 Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming TD has welcomed reports that the Government is set to revise the requirement that assistance for first time buyers will only be available to those who are taking mortgages for 80% of the value of the property.


Deputy Fleming highlighted this issue in his response to the budget in Dáil Éireann on 12th October and asked the Minister to revisit the 80% requirement.


He commented, “Fianna Fáil has made clear its dissatisfaction with the Government’s proposed scheme since it was first floated.  My colleagues and I have been critical of a number of aspects of the scheme, including the inclusion of homes up to €600k and the refusal to apply it to second hand homes.


“One area which we also expressed concern about was the proposal that assistance was only available if a buyer took out an 80% mortgage, meaning effectively that people who had been saving for a home before this scheme was announced would be forced into more debt if they wanted to avail of it.  I highlighted this point in my initial contribution in response to the budget speech.


“If the reports that this element is going be relaxed are accurate, this is a welcome development.”

Ministers must get their act together on slurry spreading – Scanlon Thu, 20 Oct 2016 11:02:01 +0000 Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon says the Government needs to urgently clarify the situation regarding slurry spreading for farmers.  Despite repeated calls for the spreading deadline to be extended, the Ministers concerned failed to take any action and now there is widespread confusion as to whether farmers can apply for exemptions.

Deputy Scanlon raised the issue in the Dáil yesterday.

“Farmers in the North West are extremely angry about this current situation.  On the one hand you have the Taoiseach and the Agriculture Minister claiming that individual cases could be examined and facilitated, while on the other hand the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government is sending memos to County Councils reminding them that the closed season began on the 15th October and that no individualised exemptions had been announced”, explained Deputy Scanlon.

“This is a ridiculous situation and is leading to increased frustration among farmers.  Not only are they dealing with the fallout from the severe weather this summer, and all the additional problems that that has brought, now they’re unable to get clear answers from the Government about slurry spreading exemptions.

“I have been arguing for farmers to be allowed to put their cases forward for assessment.  Some farmers who have contacted me have almost full slurry tanks and have been unable to spread this summer because of the heavy rainfall.  They’re very worried about what this will mean for their business for next year.

“Ministers Creed and Coveney need to have a discussion and come up with a plan that affords these farmers some degree of flexibility.  Exemptions are being granted in Northern Ireland, and they have been granted here before as well.  This is the only sensible solution and I’m urging the Ministers to act immediately”.

Government must fight to defend Ireland’s corner in upcoming EU talks on CCCTB – McGrath Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:16:18 +0000 Responding to media reports around draft EU proposals on Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath TD stated that the government must defend Ireland’s interests in future discussions. The draft proposals are due to be launched by the European Commission next week before being debated by the EU Parliament and European Council.

Deputy McGrath stated that “These two part proposals are a shift in direction from the Commission from the failed effort to bring in CCCTB in 2011. Ensuring companies and multinationals pay their fair share of tax and reducing compliance costs are important goals,” said McGrath.

“However, the latter half of the proposals represents a significant threat to Ireland’s tax sovereignty. Consolidating the tax base will hand the Commission too much power and influence over the tax rates of individual member states. In effect it is tax harmonisation through the back door.”

“The government should engage constructively with the proposals but not be afraid to fight Ireland’s corner in defending our 12.5% Corporate Tax rate which is non-negotiable. With Brexit and the Apple case already putting pressure on our industrial strategy, we need to assert the rights of smaller member states to determine their own taxation regimes. We must be able to compete with other countries to attract and retain Foreign Direct Investment which already sustains 187,000 jobs across all of Ireland.”

“The proposals come at the same time as the EU prepares to deal with the UK invoking Article 50. Brexit means Ireland will be losing one of its closest allies at the negotiating table. We need to build new alliances with other member states who are committed to maintaining state’s rights over our taxation regime.”

“Ultimately Ireland has the right to veto any part of the proposals that infringes upon our core national interests. The government must, at all costs, protect Irish interests in what will be a long process ahead,” concluded McGrath.

McConalogue calls for clarity on slurry spreading exemptions Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:20:29 +0000 Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has hit out at the Government for sending mixed messages to farmers about slurry spreading.

Deputy McConalogue explained, “Yesterday in the Dáil, I asked the Taoiseach to allow farmers some flexibility to spread slurry past the October 15th deadline given the recent sever weather conditions.  He told the House that farmers would be “treated on a case-by-case basis”.

“Despite this commitment from the Taoiseach, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government has since informed all Directors of Services in local authorities that no such individual exemptions are to be permitted, and that farmers should contact their local authority with any queries.

“This afternoon, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed told the Dáil that “the Department is in a position to accommodate farmers who make contact with the Department through its emergency procedures”, on a case by case basis.

“The Minister cited the Department of Agriculture website, but no emergency procedures are live on the website at the moment.  This is an appalling situation.

“Farmers across the country are genuinely distressed about the current situation.  Now they’re receiving conflicting messages from different Government departments.  This is ridiculous – there seems to be a complete breakdown in simple communication between Ministers and it’s time that they got their act together.

“All farmers are asking for is some flexibility.  It hasn’t been an issue in Northern Ireland and I cannot understand why the same rules cannot apply here”.

Action needed as Waterford Hospital waiting lists soar by 159% – Aylward Wed, 19 Oct 2016 15:38:31 +0000 Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to set out a detailed plan for tackling waiting lists at Waterford University Hospital.

Deputy Aylward made the comments after receiving new information which shows that inpatient and day case waiting lists at the hospital have soared by 159% since May 2013.

“Waiting lists at Waterford University Hospital have soared by 159% since 2013. It’s well acknowledged that the health service is under severe pressure, but the increase in Waterford is not proportionate with the rest of the country. For example the overall increase in waiting lists in the South / West Hospitals Group was 62% in the same period of time while Cork University Hospital has seen waiting lists decrease by 27%,” said Deputy Aylward.

“As of last August there were 4,123 people on the inpatient waiting lists which is an increase of 2,542 since 2013. This is a shocking figure and clearly demonstrates the effects of Fine Gael’s neglect of the health service in recent years. I have raised this matter in the Dáil directly with Minister Harris and I have stressed the need for a detailed plan to be set out to tackle rising waiting lists.

“Minister Harris has given me a commitment that he will instruct his officials to examine the figures which I have brought to his attention. I will continue to push Minister Harris to take urgent action to address these waiting lists. Every effort must be made to reduce the number of people stuck on waiting lists, especially for those who have been waiting for hospital services for months and in some cases years.

“I am aware that hospital management are currently working with the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund to source additional capacity to clear the waiting lists backlog. These efforts must be fast-tracked, and this is why I asked Minister Harris to personally intervene in this situation. He must follow through on his commitment with meaningful action.”

Deputy Aylward also welcomed the news that Waterford University Hospital is to appoint a second gastroenterologist in early 2017.

“Campaigners have long argued the need for a second gastroenterologist at the hospital. This position must be filled as a matter of urgency given the fact that the hospital is serving a catchment area of over half a million people,” concluded Deputy Aylward.

Daly welcomes 2nd stage passage of Irish Sign Language Bill Wed, 19 Oct 2016 15:24:38 +0000 Today’s passage, from second stage to committee stage, of the Irish Sign Language Bill is a great day for the Irish Deaf Community said Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark Daly who introduced the bill into Seanad Éireann.

“The cross-party support that my bill received today is testament to the hard work of the Irish Deaf Community in raising awareness of their needs, and shining a spotlight on the challenges they face on a day to day basis.”

“I welcome Minister Finian McGrath’s support for this bill, and its progression to Committee Stage. It was great to have members of the Irish Deaf Society, and students from Bishopstown School in the Seanad Chamber to witness this important milestone.

“I will be working with a variety of government departments on future amendments to ensure that the bill will pass Committee Stage with Government support.”

“Fianna Fáil will be pushing hard for the next stage of the legislative process to take place as early as possible, hopefully in January when the Seanad returns from its Christmas break.”

“Under the bill, Irish Sign Language would be designated as a native and independent language that is used as the primary means of communication by over 5,000 members of the deaf community.”

“The impact of this piece of legislation would be truly transformative for the deaf community enabling ISL to be used in legal proceedings and would require Irish TV broadcasters to have subtitling on a greater proportion of broadcasts.”

“From interaction with social protection services to buying a TV license or dealing with your local authority, the Irish deaf community have been denied equal rights and opportunities for years.

“When this bill is passed, it will also require the State to provide interpreting services for students who use Irish Sign Language, and would require every public body to devise and implement an action plan to promote the use of sign language within the organisation.”

“I want to thank every Senator who spoke so passionately in favour of the bill. This legislation means so much to Irish Sign Language users across Ireland, and ensures that their rights are protected in law,” concluded Daly.

Speech by FF Leader, Micheál Martin ahead of EU Summit Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:17:24 +0000 Statements on EU Summit

Dáil Éireann

Wednesday 19th October 2016

Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fáil

Ceann Comháirle, the issues to be discussed at this week’s meeting of the European Council are of fundamental concern to the people of this country.  They address profound economic and humanitarian challenges.  The need for our government to play an active and constructive role is clear, yet what we are seeing is an, at best, reserved approach lacking any initiative.

The time available in these statements does not allow for dealing with every item on the agenda let alone the Brexit elephant in the room which is not down for discussion but overshadows everything.  As such I would like to address the current state of the Brexit process and the linked issues of migration and Russia’s aggression against democratic forces in both Syria and Europe.

In the days after the UK referendum in June there was great fear and uncertainty about what would happen.  Four months later the situation is much worse.

The UK cabinet has failed to set out even the most basic framework for how it wishes to proceed.  There are many reports of splits between ministers.  At one end the Brexiteers are continuing with their nonsense arguments that everything is OK and it really doesn’t matter what is agreed.  The Secretary of State responsible for Brexit has gone as far as to say that the UK will have no problem quickly negotiating trade deals amounting to ten times the EU’s internal market.  Given that the EU accounts for 23% of global income, this forecast doesn’t even fit into the realm of fantasy.

On the other hand the Chancellor of the Exchequer is apparently trying to point out that simply walking away from the EU would be the most damaging thing possible for their economy.  His reward for this is to be subject to daily abuse about supposedly trying to sabotage Brexit.

There is an increasingly fevered atmosphere in London, with daily leaks, counter-leaks, policy announcements and U-turns.  The people who sold Brexit based on a sleazy, dark campaign are still pushing and their arrogant belief in their own righteousness is actually growing.

In the midst of all of this a few things are becoming clear.  It is highly likely that in the first half of 2019 the UK will cease to be a member of the EU and will not be willing to agree to any of the basic requirements for membership of the single market.  There seems to be a near zero possibility of a ‘soft Brexit’.

Prime Minister May has said that their bottom line is that they must be free to exclude EU citizens from an automatic right to live and work in the UK and that Westminster must be able to act without reference to the court which enforces EU rules.  In fact she has said that next year a so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’ will be introduced which will take effect immediately on day one of Brexit.  This legislation’s stated purpose is to immediately end the application of any EU law in the UK.

Given that freedom of movement and the primacy of EU law are two defining features of membership of the Single Market, the only reasonable conclusion is that a ‘Hard Brexit’ is underway.

This is an appalling scenario for Europe as a whole, but for Ireland most of all.  If this is to be mitigated in any way it will require unique agreements and unprecedented speed.  No modern trade agreement has ever been negotiated in two years, even when the process has started with clear objectives.

As my party has been saying for some time, Brexit is already hitting Ireland.  The collapse of Sterling is already damaging businesses and costing jobs.  Businesses and communities which are threatened by a weak Sterling and new trade barriers lack any security about their future.  Before this problem becomes a crisis we have to start acting.

Taoiseach, my party is calling on you to state clearly to the other governments that the response to Brexit cannot wait for two years, it needs to start now.

There must agreement on the core principle that the EU will seek to help member states disproportionately impacted by Brexit.  It must allow and provide aid to industries that need to diversify away from over-reliance on the UK market or which need help to maintain markets following the UK leaving the Single Market.

We also need an early and formal acknowledgement that Border communities must be supported.  They are already feeling the impact of massive sterling volatility and face enormous uncertainty about the future.

So far there have been a lot of warm words but little substance.  We need a concrete recognition from the EU that Ireland’s interests are understood.

In relation to Prime Minister May, we should formally state to her our concern that the unique position of Northern Ireland has not been recognised by her in the Brexit cabinet committee established last week.  This committee is due to oversee all elements of the Brexit negotiations and has 12 full members.  By any measure this is a large committee yet the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has no right to attend other than when summonsed.  The internal fights in the Tory party are enough of a priority for the Tory Chairman to be a member – but Ireland ranks much lower.

It should also be said that the UK ministers should cease to give us all lectures about the future of Europe.  In May and June we heard what they think of us all and they should park their arrogance and get on with stating what they want.  The Foreign Secretary’s statement in Turkey that he supports that country’s application for EU membership is brazen even for him.

The Summit will also deal with the ongoing humanitarian crisis of migration to Europe and the lined issue of Russia’s escalating aggression towards democratic forces in Europe and elsewhere.

As I have said here for years, the root cause of the mass migration from Syria is a brutal regime seeking to destroy the popular will for democracy.  This refugee crisis is not an accident; it has been Syrian state policy for five years.

There was a clear opportunity to transition to a government chosen by the Syrian people in 2011 and 2012 but this was rejected by the Assad regime.

Syria has been a client state of the Soviet Union and Russia for over 50 years and this relationship has been toxic for the Syrian people in recent years.

Russia vetoed every effort on the part of the United Nations to stop the fighting.  It vetoed four resolutions at the Security Council which had near universal international support.  It even vetoed allowing the international criminal court to investigate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

There will be a full session tomorrow on the inhumanity of the joint Syrian/Russian bombing of Aleppo where this can be addressed more fully.

But I want to make it clear that the pathetic and craven attempt to avoid a clear and specific condemnation of Russia’s behaviour simply exposes those who adopt it.

After weeks of being challenged, some of those who claim to be anti-war will hold a demonstration tomorrow – but are attacking all foreign forces in order to avoid focusing on Russia’s unique role.  They had no problem in focusing on the US and UK when those countries proposed bombing the grotesque and genocidal ISIS movement.

Let’s be clear, 80% of Russia’s bombs have, according to independent NGOs, been directed against democratic forces including Kurdish forces.  They have repeatedly targeted hospitals and used bunker-busting bombs against civilian areas.  Not by accident, but as a core strategy.

To try to equate this with the actions of democratic nations bombing ISIS is perverse and yet that is what we will continue to hear from those in this House and outside who love nothing better to accuse others of hypocrisy.

This is the same as we saw when Russia invaded, partitioned and started a war in a neighbouring country because it wanted to get away from Russian dominance.  In this House, there were Deputies who trotted out the most sinister disinformation and moral relativism.  Sinn Fein in Europe even refused to condemn the partition of a sovereign country and repression against a national minority.

Russia’s interference in the democratic politics of various European countries is growing all the time and always involves the support of hard-right forces.  It has given and acknowledged funding for the National Front in France and has given but not acknowledged funding for a range of other neo-fascist groups in Hungary and elsewhere.

Russia’s transparent support for Donald Trump’s campaign and sinister attacks on Hillary Clinton are unprecedented and a warning to us all.

Taoiseach, at this grave moment, with this frantic anti-EU aggression and with basic values at stake, this EU Summit must not step back.  It must not agree with the right wing politicians demanding an end to Russian sanctions.  In fact it needs to wake up and stop acting as if Vladimir Putin will one day become a reliable neighbour.

What we need from this summit is more clarity and a determination to get to grips with Brexit.  We need a commitment to do whatever it takes to helps countries under pressure.  We need an unequivocal statement that Europe will not be intimidated by Russia or any groups trying to undermine basic democratic values.  And Ireland must speak up.