Latest News – Fianna Fáil The Republican Party Wed, 25 May 2016 12:06:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tesco and worker representatives must attend Labour Court – Collins Wed, 25 May 2016 12:06:54 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Niall Collins TD has said it’s imperative Tesco attend the Labour Court to resolve the ongoing dispute between workers and management. Deputy Collins made the comments ahead of planned industrial action at 70 Tesco stores across the country tomorrow.

Deputy Collins commented, “It’s shocking to read reports that management still intend to unilaterally change the existing employment contracts of some workers at the company. This will result in reduced pay and conditions for those with more than 20 years’ service – many of whom are older workers.

“This goes against the established industrial relations practice of ensuring decent workplace conditions in Ireland. Before any changes are introduced there should be full consultation and agreement with workers.

“Union representatives indicate that changes to workers conditions of employment will result in the imposition of draconian pay cuts averaging between 15 – 20%. There will also be a significant reduction in overtime and widespread changes to work rosters.

“It’s harrowing to hear that nearly 900 workers are currently on family-income supplement despite being employed at the company. Tesco is now looking to lower the wage for 300 workers which will result in the state having to step in and provide additional financial support for those affected. This is despite the fact that Tesco is a highly profitable company.

“Considering the retailer has 139 stores nationwide, any cuts to pay would not only affect working families, but also impact negatively on communities, especially in rural areas and the local economy.

“Fianna Fáil believes that long serving Tesco workers cannot have their employment rights unilaterally changed without their agreement. It’s also incumbent of Tesco’s management to attend the Labour court to discuss and resolve other issues at dispute,” said Deputy Collins.

Tusla ruling raises questions about decision making process – Rabbitte Tue, 24 May 2016 15:00:46 +0000 Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has called on the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, to review a decision made by a Foster Care Committee to remove a child from the custody of its grandparents.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “If the details as reported on this case are correct, then it is extremely worrying that this child was removed from the custody of his grandparents.

“According to a letter seen by reporters, this child was taken out of his grandparents’ care primarily because of their age, and that there was a 40 year age gap between the child and his grandparents.

“Questions need to be answered in this case specifically, as to why it was deemed in the best interests of this child to be removed from close family members, despite positive testimonies from the child’s school principal, a local GP and a consultant paediatrician.

“In wider policy terms, foster placement guidelines as set by Tusla may need to undergo a root and branch review.

“I do not believe it is in children’s best interests if it is the case that immediate family members, such as grandparents – who already have a strong bond with the child, and who would otherwise be suitable foster parents – are not being considered because the 40 year guideline is the overriding criteria considered by the Foster Care Committees.  This should be reviewed to ensure that the well-being of the child is always the primary consideration in the decision making process”.

Ó Cuív calls for clarity on broadband plan Tue, 24 May 2016 14:56:49 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional Development Éamon Ó Cuív says a turf war between two Government departments over responsibility for the National Broadband Plan is unhelpful and could actually delay the roll out of broadband to rural Ireland.

Despite Denis Naughten being appointed Minister for Communications, the Taoiseach has allocated responsibility for the National Broadband Plan to Minister Heather Humphreys.  However, Minister Naughten appears reluctant to give up his department’s ownership of the plan claiming that it will continue with “the procurement for a high speed telecoms network” as well as developing “proposals for an entity to manage all of the State’s Broadband contracts”.

Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “The roll out of a high speed broadband service should be one of the top priorities for this Government.  However, the fact that responsibility for the project appears to be falling between two departments is an extremely worrying development.  I am extremely concerned that this could result in major communications problems and a completely disjointed strategy.  After more than 5 years of neglecting rural Ireland, this would be the worst possible outcome.

“Government departments do not have a great track record when it comes to joined up thinking and the fact that the National Broadband Plan now appears to be falling between Communications and Regional Development sounds alarm bells.  What we need is a coherent and workable plan which falls entirely under the remit of one Minister, who can take full ownership of the project.

“The Taoiseach needs to urgently clarify the situation and ensure that the National Broadband Plan is pursued.  We cannot run the risk of it falling through the cracks.  High speed broadband is essential to the development of rural Ireland and it cannot be allowed to be pushed off the Government agenda”.

Browne warns of delays in processing passport applications Tue, 24 May 2016 13:35:05 +0000 Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne is advising people who are due to travel abroad on holidays over the summer to check their passports as it’s currently taking up to 6 weeks to process new applications.

Deputy Browne made the comments after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that 68,281 passport applications are being processed by the Passport Office. This is a substantial increase on the application numbers for this time last year, and nearly 14% of all applications are currently behind schedule.

“I’ve been informed that the Passport Office is currently experiencing extraordinary demand for its services. This is partly due to the high number of Irish people that are expected to travel to Euro 2016 in France,” said Deputy Browne.

“I encourage anyone that is due to travel abroad over the summer to double check their passport to make sure it’s still in date. People need to be aware that it could take up to 6 weeks for new applications to be processed. This could mean that people will miss out on their holidays if they only realise at the last minute that their passport is out of date.

“While a passport is not necessary to gain entry to EU counties such as France, many travel companies will nonetheless refuse to accept any other form of identification. The backlog in the Passport Office is also in part being caused by UK citizens applying for Irish passports in case Brexit occurs.

“I’ve called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan to assign additional resources to the Passport Office to help clear this backlog,” concluded Deputy Browne.

AIB’s progress a positive sign for customers and State’s investment – FF Tue, 24 May 2016 12:29:16 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Finance Michael McGrath has welcomed today’s trading update from AIB which indicates the State-owned bank was strongly profitable in the first quarter of the year as it implements an ongoing series of reductions in its variable mortgage rate.

Deputy McGrath commented, “It’s noteworthy that AIB, which has reduced its standard variable rate on four occasions in the past eighteen months, has still managed to increase its net interest margin by twelve basis points to 2.09% in the quarter to the end of March. This is further evidence that the refusal of some other banks to reduce their standard variable rate is completely unjustifiable by current market conditions and can only be described as naked profiteering.

“Today’s positive update from AIB further boosts the possibility of a further variable rate cut in the coming months. It would be a hugely positive development if the other main players in the domestic mortgage market were to follow AIB’s lead in this regard.

“I’ve always acknowledged the needs for banks to be profitable and it is a key objective for the State to recoup the enormous amount of funds used to rescue AIB. It’s possible to match this objective with the charging of competitive mortgage rates which move in line with the bank’s cost of funds.

“I also welcome the improvement in the mortgage arrears situation at AIB. Where resolutions have been put in place, they need to be carefully monitored to ensure they are genuinely long term and sustainable. The prospect of a further repayment by AIB to the State of €1.8 billion in capital in July of this year is also a positive sign.

“The State’s holding in AIB is owned through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. There is a strong case for using part of the proceeds of the ongoing disposal of the investment in AIB to address the critical infrastructure deficit in the State, consistent with the need for a commercial return,” said Deputy McGrath.

O’Dea raises concerns over closure of CRC pension fund Tue, 24 May 2016 11:31:23 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD has raised concerns about the closure of a staff pension fund at the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC).

Deputy O’Dea commented, “I’m concerned about the sudden dissolution of this pension fund for 47 staff members of CRC. From my understanding of the situation this was done without consultation with the affected staff members, who were only informed of the situation in the aftermath of the closure of their pension fund.

“I’ve tabled a series of questions to the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar on this issue and I will meet with the affected staff members in the coming days to discuss the situation. This has come as a great shock to these staff members who had a reasonable expectation of a secure income in their retirement.

“I’m calling on the Minister to examine this situation and to try and secure a more favourable outcome for these workers. The closure of the pension fund at short notice is grossly unfair and needs to be urgently addressed.”

O’Callaghan condemns gangland shooting and calls for greater Garda resourcing Tue, 24 May 2016 10:55:14 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Jim O’Callaghan TD has condemned the latest gangland shooting in Dublin’s North inner city this morning.

“This shooting is shocking but unfortunately is not surprising. It is not acceptable that this brutality is taking place on the streets of our capital. Over the last few months we have seen a spate of gangland killings dominate the media, beginning with the callous shooting in the Regency Hotel in Whitehall.

“We saw condemnation from the Minister for Justice and promises to crack down on these criminal gangs. Despite this, the feuding between these criminal gangs has continued. Today we saw a shooting in broad daylight, just minutes walking distance from our cities main thoroughfare.

“Fianna Fáil is repeating our party’s call for a new Serious and Organised Crime Unit to be established with a remit to include co-operation with Interpol and other police agencies. This unit, if adequately resourced, could spearhead the fight against these crime gangs.

“The residents of Dublin need to see the battle against these criminal gangs intensified, to prevent further attacks like the ones we saw this morning,” concluded Deputy O’Callaghan.

Cycling progress must be maintained – Chambers Tue, 24 May 2016 10:53:53 +0000 Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West, Deputy Jack Chambers has welcomed the latest traffic count by Dublin City Council, which showed that the numbers of people cycling into Dublin city has more than doubled over the last decade.

“These numbers show the great progress the city has made in recent years encouraging people to leave their cars at home, and to walk, cycle or take public transport to work. Around two thirds of all journeys into the city centre were made this way; which is a record number for the city.

“I am particularly encouraged by the figures which show that cycling has more than doubled over the last decade. This is a healthy, environmentally friendly way of travelling which must continue to be supported. Fianna Fáil supports the extension of cycle lanes and the expansion of the Dublin Bikes scheme into the suburbs of Dublin and the other Dublin local authority areas; Fingal, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

“I have tabled a parliamentary question to the Transport Minister to ask him about the initiatives he is taking to promote safer cycling and to inform cyclists of the newly introduced penalty system for dangerous cycling. The issue of safety for cyclists is one I regularly have constituents contact me about.

“Dangerous traffic and poor quality cycle lanes discourages the use of cycling. Major infrastructural initiatives constructed when Fianna Fáil we’re last in power; such the Dublin Port Tunnel and the Luas network have helped relieve congestion in Dublin. The massive reduction in the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) from the city’s streets due to the Port Tunnel development has no doubt helped encourage cycling.

“Fianna Fáil wants the Minister for Transport to improve cycling infrastructure over the course of the Dáil so that the doubling in cyclist numbers we have seen over the last decade can be repeated in the coming decade,” concluded Deputy Chambers.

Noonan must make good on pledge to support growth of credit unions – FF Tue, 24 May 2016 09:52:35 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Finance Michael McGrath has said Minister Noonan must make good on the pledge made in the Framework Agreement between their respective parties to support the growth and development of the credit union sector.

New figures provided to Deputy McGrath indicate that the Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo) expects to have fully completed its work by the end of the year using just €20 million of the €250 million set aside into the Credit Union Fund for the purposes of restructuring.

In addition, the Resolution Fund for credit unions in imminent financial distress has been utilised on just a handful of occasions with its costs substantially offset by income it generates. Overall the cost of supporting the sector has been just a fraction of the potential amount of €1 billion spoken of by Minister Noonan in 2011.

According to a parliamentary reply received by Deputy McGrath as of the end of April 41 merger projects involving 91 credit unions, have been completed with a further 9 projects involving 22 credit unions set to complete shortly. An additional 106 credit unions will be assisted in completing their mergers during the course of 2016.

Deputy McGrath commented, “Fianna Fáil championed the cause of credit unions in the last Dáil. We were the only party to recognise the proud tradition that credit unions have in communities throughout the country. As banks close branches and restrict in-branch services, credit unions provide important competition and choice to consumers.

“Our Dáil motions put a spotlight on the sector and resulted in a reassessment by the Department of Finance and the Central Bank of the regulations that are holding back the sector. We will continue this approach in the new Dáil scenario and ensure the Minister for Finance makes good on his pledge.

“There are a number of practical measures which we believe will form the basis of a reinvigorated credit union sector. These include:

– Lifting the €100,000 savings cap on credit unions;

– Implement a tiered regulatory approach;

– Support the roll out of new products;

– Ease restrictions on long term lending;

– Extend the role of the Credit Union advisory committee.

“In particular there is an urgent need for credit unions to be facilitated in upgrading their IT infrastructure that provides connectivity between all credit unions, giving credit union members a network, wherever they are located. Given that ReBo will only use a fraction of the funds provided to it there is a case for allocating some of these unused funds to invest in the necessary technology.

“Credit Unions can also play a vital role in tackling the need for housing in the country. The sector has been developing proposals which would see it partnering with Approved Housing Bodies to improve the supply of social and affordable housing. Credit unions should be fully supported in their efforts in this regard,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

Ardagh Slams Taoiseach’s Tardiness on Seanad Appointments Tue, 24 May 2016 07:40:52 +0000 Fianna Fáil Seanad Leader Catherine Ardagh has criticised the Taoiseach’s ongoing delay in making his appointments to Seanad Éireann. The Seanad cannot sit until he names his eleven nominees.

Senator Ardagh commented, “It is almost a month since the Seanad elections took place and it is three weeks since Enda Kenny was elected Taoiseach and yet he still has not appointed the eleven nominees required to let the Seanad commence its work.

“Throughout this period, all of the newly elected Senators have been paid a wage and provided with facilities, but haven’t sat for a single hour. It is completely untenable and it needs to be addressed without further delay.

“The Taoiseach’s lack of regard for the Seanad is well established, but when he tried to abolish it he got his answer from the Irish people. Legislation cannot be enacted without the Seanad doing its job and the fact is that if emergency legislation were required this week for any reason, the Oireachtas would not be in a position to pass it.

“The General Election result and the numbers it produced require the Taoiseach and the Government to show proper respect to the parliament and work with it in a positive and constructive way. The Seanad is an integral part of our parliament and the Taoiseach’s ongoing failure to make his appointments and let it start doing its work is not encouraging.

“We cannot have another week pass without these appointments being made”.