Carthy welcomes passage of Sinn Féin Bill to preserve 1916 battleground site

Carthy welcomes passage of Sinn Féin Bill to preserve 1916 battleground site

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has welcomed the fact that the government has supported the passage through the Dáil of a Sinn Féin Bill aimed at preserving the Moore Street area of Dublin, regarded as a key cultural site in light of its connections to the Easter Rising.

 

Speaking during the Dáil debate on the legislation, tabled by his Sinn Féin colleague, Deputy Carthy lamented that successive governments had allowed this historically important site from entering into the ownership of British speculators and developers.

 

Deputy Carthy said:

 

“The Moore Street district is incredibly important to our revolutionary history, culture and heritage as a nation.  It is a place that holds much pride for many across the thirty-two Counties of and many Irish across the globe.  Moore Street is where five of the great leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising met for the last time.

 

“The district should long have been a national monument. That it was not is in many ways symbolic of the attitude of successive Governments to the ideals of Easter week and the legacy of the great leaders of that period.

 

“That it was even possible for a property consortium to acquire large tracts of land and buildings in the area with the intention of large-scale demolition and commercial construction is telling.  That the developers enjoyed the connivance of Governments and city councils is shameful.

 

“To add insult to injury, when large parts of the property ended up in State ownership via the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, the State failed to recognise its previous failures and the sites were fire sold to another large British commercial shopping mall chain. The intention is for a large shopping centre to be built on this historic location.

 

“Thankfully, due to the diligent efforts of the relatives of the Rising’s leaders as well as other campaigners, this obscenity has not yet come to pass.

 

“Thanks to Deputy Ó Snodaigh’s legislation, which I commend him for, the House can preserve and revitalise the historic 1916 Moore Street quarter and ensure that the State no longer allows this important part of our heritage to be dispensed for corporate greed.

 

“As such, this is an important opportunity that we should all grasp.

 

“We should always remember with pride those who fought and died for Irish freedom and independence”.

 

Speaking after the debate Deputy Carthy welcomed the fact that the government had supported the passage of the legislation through to the next stage.  “It is incumbent” he said “that there are no barriers placed in the way of this legislation progressing through all order stages and being made law.”

 

Easter Commemoration goes online

 

Meanwhile, Matt Carthy confirmed this week that, in line with public health restrictions, the annual Co. Monaghan Sinn Féin Easter Rising Commemoration will take place online.

 

Deputy Carthy said:  “Unfortunately, for the second year running, the annual Easter Rising commemoration cannot take place in the traditional format.

 

“Instead, once again the commemoration will take place virtually and will be broadcast on Facebook and Youtube.  Regardless of the restrictions it is always important that we remember our fallen patriots and the ideals for which they fought and died.

 

“I am delighted that County Monaghan Sinn Féin will host a fitting tribute and I encourage people of all ages to watch and share online this weekend”.

ENDS

Carthy cautiously welcomes N-S Interconnector Review reports

Carthy cautiously welcomes N-S Interconnector Review reports

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has cautiously welcomed reports that the Taoiseach has confirmed that a review of the proposed North-South Interconnector is to be carried out.  But, he warned, ‘the devil will be in the detail.’

 

He said that confirmation is required from the Minister with responsibility, Eamon Ryan who ruled out any such review when questioned in the Dáil by Deputies Carthy and Darren O’Rourke on 10th March.  Carthy said that any review must have an adequate terms of reference that avoids the scope for fudge and that, in the interim, EirGrid must be directed to cease procurement of materials related to overhead pylons for the Interconnector.

 

Deputy Carthy said:

 

“The North South Interconnector can and should be undergrounded.  In fact, it is the only way that the project will receive the necessary public acceptable from the communities affected.  Previous reviews have confirmed that it is a feasible option for this development.

 

“Therefore, I cautiously welcome reports that the Taoiseach has committed to a review of the project. But the devil will be in the detail.  We have been down this path before with previous examinations only to have local communities left disillusioned by the poor level of engagement or scope of the review.

 

“The terms of reference of any such review and the makeup on any panel will be crucially important.  The terms must allow for a comprehensive analysis of the underground option in terms of feasibility, cost, public acceptance and impact on the environment, land-use and visual amenities.

 

“The position of Minister Éamon Ryan will be pivotal.  On the 10th March the Minister informed me and other Deputies, including Darren O’Rourke, Johnny Guirke and Pauline Tully, that he would not consider any review.  In fact he even refused to meet anyone who had an alternative view of the project to EirGrid.

 

“The first test as to whether this is a serious review will be if the government now instruct EirGrid to cease purchase of materials related to Pylon-supporting powerlines pending the result of the review.

 

“I commend the local campaigning communities, particularly the members of the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee and the North East Pylon Pressure group, for their determined efforts to ensure that their voices have been heard.  Undoubtedly, it has been their work that has brought the Taoiseach to the point of committing to a review.  Vigilance is now required to ensure that the North South Interconnector can be brought to fruition through the only means that will garner community acceptance, via the use of underground technology”.

ENDS

Government approach will fail both farmers & the environment

Government approach will fail both farmers & the environment – Carthy

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, has said of the three government leaders who launched the new Climate Action Bill this week “none can be trusted to deliver for either the environment or Irish family farmers”.

 

He said that the conflicting commentary from Eamon Ryan, Mícheál Martin and Leo Varadkar as to the numbers of cattle in the national herd showed that they each “completely miss the point”.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“The crucial issue is not simply how many cattle there are in Ireland – it is how those cattle are reared.  Some forms of production are more sustainable than others.  Government party leaders completely miss that point.

 

“Our suckler herd produces among the most sustainable beef in the world.  But, it is among the least profitable.

 

“Other forms of production such as Factory Feedlots, on the other hand, are much less sustainable and provide less benefit to rural communities.  To reduce the number of suckler cows while facilitating the continued intensification of feedlot production would be utterly pointless.

 

“To reduce Ireland’s beef production while supporting EU trade deals that will result in the importation of less-sustainable beef in other parts of the world is also nonsensical.

 

“The EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly has described as ‘maladministration’ the failure of the European Union to conclude a Sustainability Impact Assessment in advance of concluding the EU-Mercosur trade agreement.  Yet this government have not yet committed to rejecting this trade deal that would see up to 99,000 tonnes of beef flood the European market and directly led to further destruction of rainforests.

 

“The stance on Mercosur is reflective of the approach from the Green Party to sustainability.  Their consistent position is to impose standards at home that simply exports the climate impact to other countries.

 

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have a long record of abandoning smaller family farmers in their drive for further intensification and reduced profitability while simultaneously facilitating the dominance of large processors and retailers.  None of this delivers for either the environment or farming communities.

 

“If government are serious about tackling the climate crisis and supporting Irish farming then they will ensure that Environmental and Agricultural policy is aimed at supporting farming families to thrive by increasing financial supports to the most sustainable sectors, addressing market imbalances, facilitating entry of smaller farmers to organic schemes, revitalising farm forestry and promoting diversification.

 

“None of these measures have been forthcoming from any of the government parties.  Their approach fails both the environment and our family farmers.”

ENDS

 

EU Ombudsman findings demand immediate halt of Mercosur ratification

EU Ombudsman findings demand immediate halt of Mercosur ratification – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has called on the government to bring forward its review of the Mercosur Trade Deal in response to findings from the EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, that the delays in publishing a Sustainability Impact Assessment amounted to ‘maladministration.’

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“This trade deal will open Europe up to an additional 99,000 tonnes per year of beef imports from Brazil and other Mercosur states.

 

“At a time when government claims that it is striving to expand afforestation at home, it is non-sensical that we would endorse a trade deal that will lead to the destruction of rain forests in South America.

 

“The Mercosur deal will have a detrimental impact on Irish beef farmers who have already operating at unsustainable margins.

 

“A sustainability impact assessment is unnecessary for anyone with a semblance of sense to realise that this trade deal will result in further damage to the environment abroad and less money in the pockets of farmers at home.

 

“However, the determination of the EU Ombudsman leaves absolutely no doubt that the ratification of this noxious trade deal should be immediately halted.  Ireland should take the lead in this regard.

 

“Last November the Minister for Agriculture confirmed to me in the Dáil that the government was carrying out its own economic and sustainability impact on the effects of the deal.

 

“The government needs to immediately bring forward the publication of this review so that the full threat posed to Ireland is apparent before the government attempts to yet ahead press again with a disadvantageous trade deal”.

ENDS 

Carthy urges parents to register for school transport as 66 Monaghan children still left stranded

Carthy urges parents to register for school transport as 66 Monaghan children still left stranded

 

Local Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has urged local parents to register their children for the Bus Éireann school transport scheme ahead of the April 30th deadline.

 

Registrations are only required at this stage for those not already participating in the scheme or those who have moved address, with those seeking a renewal of existing tickets due to be contacted in July.

 

Deputy Carthy this week revealed that 66 children in County Monaghan, who are eligible for school transport, still remain without a bus seat due to the failure of government to provide sufficient places.

 

The Cavan Monaghan TD said:

 

“The provision of school transport in Monaghan this academic year proved to be a fiasco for many families.

 

“Throughout the year I was working with parents of children who were eligible for school transport but who registered late for the scheme.  In the midst of the pandemic, when many were struggling financially it was understandable how this happened.  But, unfortunately government were slow to show any understanding and slower still to provide the spaces necessary.

 

“The families concerned were met by an overburdened customer support system in Bus Éireann, and an Education Minister who failed to recognise the hardship caused when a child is refused a place on their school bus.

 

“According to a response to a Parliamentary Question I submitted there are still 66 eligible children in County Monaghan who have not secured a place on school transport.

 

“I will continue to press for a full re-evaluation of the school transport system so as to ensure that every child can get a seat on a bus to the school of their choice.

 

“But, in the meantime, I urge all parents of children starting a new school in September or joining the school transport scheme for the first time, to ensure that they register before the 30th April deadline”.

ENDS

Government must save Clones & Castleblayney Bank of Ireland branches

“Government must save Clones & Castleblayney Bank of Ireland branches”

Sinn Féin online Public Meeting hears call for action

 

 

The government must use its substantial stake in the Bank of Ireland to prevent the closures of local branches in Clones and Castleblayney.

 

That was the clear message delivered at a public meeting, held online due to Covid-19 restrictions, organised by local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last Friday evening.  The meeting, attended by local businesses and members of the community in both towns, heard from Deputy Carthy that when local towns lose banking services it results in lower levels of investment and therefore has a negative impact on the wider economy in the area.  The meeting also heard from local Sinn Féin representations, Cllr. Pat Treanor from Clones and Paul Gibbons of Castleblayney who is the Vice-chair of Co. Monaghan Sinn Féin.

 

 

At the outset of the meeting Deputy Carthy explained that there are 103 branches facing closure next September across the island.  He said that the decision was a particular blow to Co. Monaghan as, alongside the proposed closures of the Clones and Castleblayney branches, the bank also intended to shut neighbouring branches at Cootehill in County Cavan, Keady and Crossmaglen in County Armagh and Lisnaskea in County Fermanagh.

 

He told the meeting that the decision was taken by Bank of Ireland without consultation and in the midst of a Pandemic.  The decision was taken on footfall over the past 12 months, “a cynical move by the Bank as a cost-cutting exercise without any regard for rural communities” he said.

 

Pandemic

 

Deputy Carthy continued:  “The Bank have said this move is a result of the reduced customer attendance at the branches but have failed to acknowledge that due to lockdowns, many older and vulnerable people cocooning have limited their visits to banks while the enforced closure of businesses would also account for much of the reduction in footfall”.

 

He described the bank’s new partnership with An Post as inadequate as post offices will only be able to offer ‘over the counter cash and cheque lodgements and cash withdrawals.’

 

He said: “At the minute customers can apply for products and get financial advice as well as lodge and withdraw cash/cheques.  Most of these services will not be available through the post office.  It has been particularly galling to hear local government representatives repeat the bank’s propoganda that this will replace the loss of the bank branches.

 

Bailed-out

 

Deputy Carthy reminded those in attendance that Bank of Ireland made over €1 billion profit in the year before the Pandemic.  “So this is no more than a cost-cutting exercise” he said.

 

“They were bailed out to the tune of €4.7 billion and they will not have to pay Corporate tax for a large number of years because they are shielding future and current profits with losses incurred during the financial crisis.

 

“Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael reps were happy to facilitate the bank with billions of euro and then facilitate the bank in avoiding their tax obligations – but when it comes to local communities needing a service, they say they cannot intervene” he stated.

 

Impact on Clones and Castleblayney

 

Deputy Carthy said that Clones and Castleblayney were two towns that had suffered from economic neglect and the impact of partition for generations.  Local communities have tried hard in recent years to rebuild and they, alongside local businesses, have done tremendous work.  But the removal of services knocks them back.

 

“The loss of the Bank of Ireland branch in these areas will be a huge blow not only to those who reside in the towns but also to the outlying surrounding areas.

 

“Those worst affected will be older people and those with special needs to require face-to-face services.  The broadband in many rural areas in Monaghan means that online banking often doesn’t work.

 

“This closure, coupled with the previous removal of other public services from our county, will lead to increased loneliness and social isolation.  Banks are part of our local communities and their removal has a further community impact”.

 

Bank Workers

 

Referencing the local people who work in the branches, Deputy Carthy said that they were treated disgracefully.  “These workers are part of the community” he said, “they have local connections and local understanding.  Branch networks are like footprints in a community, it is traditional, and you will find that families down the years will be loyal to a particular bank.  The staff are part of that footprint.

 

“The staff were given the news 15 minutes before it was announced to the public in some branches.  That is nothing short of obscene.

 

“We in Sinn Féin are in touch with the Financial Services Union who have described the workers as ‘shell-shocked’.  There has been a major change in the banking landscape across Ireland lately with the Ulster Bank pulling out and now these closures.  Thousands of workers are involved.

 

“Staff in other branches are naturally apprehensive that they could be next”.

 

Government Responsibility

 

Deputy Carthy continued: “The government have a responsibility.  There has always been ‘light touch regulation’ which essentially means the banks can do whatever they want and now that we have a significant stake in these banks, nothing has changed.

 

“The Government has a responsibility to plan the Irish economy and deliver balanced regional development and these closures run contrary to that.

 

“If their policies and Programme for Government and what they say they are doing are matched by their actions, then they wouldn’t be allowing this to happen the way it is happening.

 

“Government parties claim that they are committed to delivering balanced regional development.  That requires local economies and regional economies across the country.  That, in turn, requires financial infrastructure like banks and post offices.  State services and financial services need to be in all or most of these areas.

 

“The problem is that if you lose it, then it’s harder to get it back, so the task must be – don’t lose it in the first place.

 

“There is political consensus that the PTSB should buy the Ulster Bank loans and PTSB have gone further saying they will buy some local Ulster Bank branches.

 

“They wouldn’t do that if they didn’t think they were viable.  Ulster Bank are closing around 80 branches but we never bailed them out at any stage so we have little leverage there.

 

“But, we DO have leverage of the 14% stake-holding with the Bank of Ireland.  And, government must use it.

 

Businesses & Investment

 

“Local Businesses need a local branch for personal servicing of their account” Carthy said.

 

“Start-ups especially always need support from their local branch rather than the anonymity of large branches.  In a rural setting they can depend on the personal relationship with the bank and its manager.

 

“Local banking services are essential infrastructure for any local economy and any loss of a bank, especially the very last one, is detrimental to the local economy. Research shows that there is a 2/3 credit growth reduction (credit growth is money lent to businesses) if a bank leaves an area”.

 

Call to action

 

Deputy Carthy outlined how British bank financial regulators have stated that there  should be no bank closures during the pandemic.

This should be the position in Ireland also.   “In fact closures shouldn’t even be contemplated until the end of 2022 and pending a wholescale review of banking services in Ireland”, he said.

 

“The Minister of Finance Paschal Donohue holds a 14% shareholding in the Bank of Ireland on behalf of the Irish people.  In terms of what we want to happen now, Sinn Féin are calling for activism from individuals and organisations to force the government to use this stake in the public interest”.

 

Sinn Féin are asking people:

  1. To email the Minister (minister@finance.gov.ie) calling on him to use his influence to delay or secure a moratorium on these closures.
  2. To sign the petition in opposition to these closures at www.my.uplift.ie/petitions/keep-our-bank-branch-open.
  3. To send emails to local government supporting TDs asking them to support their local branch
  4. Contact Bank of Ireland directly explaining the importance of our local bank branches.

 

Deputy Carthy concluded by reminding those gathered that this is a campaign that can be won.  “This isn’t just a case of lonely Monaghan towns fighting for the survival of their local banks against the big boys”, he said “we are part of a wider campaign from 103 towns in every part of Ireland facing the same problem.  If we can replicate resistance in each of these areas we stand a better chance of succeeding.  This is a David & Golaith fight but if we all join together, we stand a chance of saving these important centres in our local towns” he concluded.

 

Cllr. Pat Treanor

 

In his remarks to the meeting local Sinn Féin Councillor, Pat Treanor, said that this announcement was the last thing Clones needed.

 

He told the meeting:

 

“The businesses and community in the Clones area are particularly annoyed and disappointed by this closure because 6 years ago, when we lost the Ulster Bank branch, Bank of Ireland promised that they were here to stay.  The announcement that they are now withdrawing another service from Clones has let people down badly.

 

“Speaking to business people this week, I know that many of them need a basic service for depositing their weekly cash takings in a safe and secure place.  The town needs the ATM facility so that people have access to cash to shop in Clones.

 

“Many older people are scared that they won’t have access to their savings.  They will miss the chats with the bank staff, who they trusted, about wills, or their farms, or their savings.

 

“As a local councillor, I’ve also listened to the concerns about this iconic prominent building in the centre of our town.  No one wants to see another vacant property, especially when we’re having some success at dealing with dereliction.

 

“We must be given time to determine a useful alternative for this bank building, in the event of Bank of Ireland refusing to reverse their decision”  Cllr. Treanor concluded.

 

Paul Gibbons

 

Paul Gibbons from Castleblayney, who is the vice-chair of Co. Monaghan Sinn Féin, recorded to the meeting the many voices of concern which he had heard from the business and wider community since the news of the imminent closure of the Castleblayney branch of the Bank of Ireland.

 

He said: “For all of us in Castleblayney news of the imminent closure of our Bank of Ireland branch was not a great surprise.  Opening hours and services have been reducing in the last few years and this along with the COVIUD pandemic has, of course, impacted hugely on footfall.

“Some people have been reassured by the continuing presence in Blayney of Allied Irish Bank in a key location in the town.  There is however also a real fear that the business rationale that influenced the Bank of Ireland decision may also be in the mind of Allied Irish executives and initiate a similar outcome in relation to branch closures.  I have no doubt Allied Irish are watching the response from communities, businesses and politicians to the Bank of Ireland announcements and this may influence their actions.  This highlights the importance of providing an effective campaign in opposition to these closures.

 

“In the last few years in Castleblayney we have lost our Ulster bank branch on the Dublin road, and now have received news of the loss of the Bank of Ireland branch. If Allied Irish were to also close their Blayney branch the associated loss of banking services and 24/7 ATM access on our Main Street would be devastating.

 

“I must commend our Castleblayney Credit Union which has provided a wide range of financial services, a safe and secure place for savings and an affordable source of credit all with a member owned, not for profit ethos and is an integral part of our community.  The Credit Union movement nationally however is not in a position currently to provide the full range of financial services to be a full service banking option.”

 

Mr. Gibbons continued: “The people who will be most impacted by this decision are people with literacy problems, the elderly, citizens with no internet access and with the ongoing lack of broadband in many parts of the wider Castleblayney area this represents a sizeable cohort of our community.  For this reason the announced closure is an indefensible decision at any time but in the midst of a pandemic the decision is truly shameful and corporate cynicism at its worst.

 

“The rise of online banking is unstoppable and for many people it is their preferred way of interacting with their bank.  However, this is not an option for everybody and it is vital that the rights of these people are articulated and defended.  The future of banking in the short to medium term should be a blended solution with a strong online presence complimented by a branch network.

 

“The Irish people were there for Bank of Ireland when they needed help in the economic crash. We are asking that the Bank of Ireland repay some of that support and loyalty by being there for the businesses and community in Castleblayney and the other 102 communities where they have announced branch closures” he concluded.

 

Other elected representatives in attendance included the Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council, Cllr. Colm Carthy, and his Castleblayney/Carrickmacross MD colleague, Cllr. Noel Keelan.  Cllr. Cathy Bennett from the Monaghan Municipal District was also in attendance.  All gave their absolute commitment to support the campaign to retain full local bank services across County Monaghan.

 

Following a question and answer session with members of the public, the meeting concluded with agreement that all those in attendance would encourage others to participate in this important campaign.

ENDS

 

C&AG Report represents a decade of failed government reform

C&AG Report represents a decade of failed government reform – Imelda Munster TD & Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin members of the Public Accounts Committee Imelda Munster TD and Matt Carthy TD have welcomed a report of the Comptroller & Auditor General commissioned by the Public Accounts Committee into financial governance at Educational Training Boards.

Teachta Munster said:

“This report highlights a number of glaring failings in the financial reporting and governance of ETBs.

“Over six years ago the process of rationalisation to move from the 33 Vocational Education Committees to the new structure of 16 ETBs began. That since then the C&AG is raising matters such as Board members not receiving packs in advance of meetings and even poor attendance at board meetings makes a farce of the rationalisation process.

“In 2018 the C&AG flagged a number of issues relating to one ETB that has since led to a number of Garda investigations – I would have expected this would give the Department of Education the impetus it needed to help ETBs get their affairs in order.

“However, what seems to be the most consistent recurring theme in this report is the Board members of the ETBs struggling to complete a complicated rationalisation process without adequate departmental support.

“The Department of Education will be before the PAC in the coming weeks and I will be demanding answers from them as to how they intend to support ETBs to fully implement the recommendations of the C&AG’s report.

Teachta Carthy said:

“This report has arrived at a timely time as the PAC has only in recent weeks reviewed the operations of the National Shared Services Office and Office of Government Procurement.

“When engaging with those offices a picture emerged of reforms that were introduced after the last financial crisis which have never been fully implemented.

“While the OGP seems to struggle to fulfil its existing remit and lack interest in policing its own guidelines, the NSSO project has yet to deliver with a budget overrun north of 100%.

“In recent weeks the PAC has also engaged the HSE with regards to its financial management systems and procurement issues, and now this ETB report has shed similar light on that sector.

“In particular, ETBs seem to be operating multiple outdated financial management systems individually, seriously calling into question the ability of the department to take a statewide viewpoint on the sector.

“At the same time, it is a near weekly occurrence that the C&AG draws attention to the accounts of a specific ETB for significant non-compliant procurement.

“It seems that the issues of the OGP and NSSO are replicated, if not in an even more sorry state across multiple government departments and agencies.

“The purposes of these projects were to introduce cost savings and increase transparency, yet what seems to be emerging is a web of related projects all of which are behind schedule and delivering questionable results.

“What is the point of a National Shared Services Office, or an Office of Government Procurement, when various Departments and state agencies are replicating the exact same functions, while running into the exact same issues?

“This calls into question the efficiency of the reforms introduced after the last crash, and ultimately the performance of the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform to deliver on its remit over the last decade.”

ENDS

Fianna Fáil underplaying Social Housing need

Fianna Fáil underplaying Social Housing need – Matt Carthy TD

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has accused Fianna Fáil and the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien of ‘deliberately underplaying the number of households in need of social housing’.

 

Deputy Carthy said:

 

“The annual Housing Needs Assessment was published last week by the Minister for Housing.

According to the report, the number of households on Council housing waiting lists decreased by 6,813 between June 2019 and November 2020, a 9.9% decrease.

 

“However, the Minister’s argument that this constitutes progress in addressing social housing does not hold up to scrutiny.  The Minister is purposefully downplaying the number of households in need of social housing.

 

“The number of households claiming the Housing Assistance Payment actually rose by 11,115 over the same timeframe.  This is a temporary assistance program for social housing applicants as they wait for council housing but are not included in the Council’s waiting list statistics.

 

“This means that, contrary to Fianna Fáil assertions, the number of people in need of social housing has risen by 4,302 households, a 6 percent increase.

 

“When all those on council waiting lists, as well as HAP and RAS recipients, are taken together, the total number of people in need of social housing exceeds 140,000.  This does not include thousands of families who cannot be included in the waiting lists at all because of restrictions such as income limits which prevent them from even applying for housing.

 

“The government only intends to address a third of this official housing need, which also does not include prospective applicants.  These statistics clearly indicate that the government is not spending enough to satisfy the true need for social housing.

 

“That is why, year after year, subsidies to private landlords in respect of social housing tenants increase to the tune of millions on an annual basis.

 

“Concrete action is required to address the housing crisis in our communities, and the Minister obscuring figures to make himself look better adds little of substance to either the debate or resolution of this crisis”.

ENDS

Carthy welcomes proposed €330 million agricultural loan scheme

Carthy welcomes proposed €330 million agricultural loan scheme

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, has welcomed confirmation from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) that they are considering a €330 million loan scheme targeted at the agricultural sector.

 

The SBCI confirmed they were examining such a scheme during a session of the Public Accounts Committee where Deputy Carthy questioned the body on the now closed Agricultural Cashflow Support Loan.

 

The €145 million Agricultural Cashflow Support Loan previously offered by the SBCI was oversubscribed with some banks reaching capacity in days for loans offered at a 2.9% interest rate.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“This proposed new scheme from the SBCI has the potential to alleviate some of the undue pressures placed on our family farmers as a result of the ongoing pandemic and Brexit.

 

“The oversubscription of their last agricultural scheme should serve as a testament to the need within the sector for affordable loans.

 

“However, I am concerned as to the effects that the announced Ulster Bank withdrawal and Bank of Ireland branch closures will have on the ability of some farmers to tap into this facility.

 

“We have heard in recent weeks just how dramatic the difference is for businesses in the SME sector to secure loans when a local bank branch is not available, and the same principle applies small to medium sized farmers.

 

“It is critical that the Department of Agriculture work with the SBCI to ensure that these loans are offered by a broad enough range of financial institutions so that they can reach into all of our rural communities.

 

“The SBCI have indicated they expect to be in a position to offer these loans in the second half of this year, so the time is right for the Department to engage and ensure that the scheme is constructed in a manner that makes certain it benefits the largest possible number of farmers.

 

“We cannot allow a situation to arise where smaller farmers are frozen out of these supports simply because of a pre-existing and worsening dearth of financial services in their communities”.

ENDS

 

Minister must resolve latest BEAM debacle

Minister must resolve latest BEAM debacle – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, has called on the Minister for Agriculture to outline how intends to resolve the rapidly evolving BEAM scheme debacle.

 

The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure provided famers with temporary financial aid in response to a prolonged period of depressed beef prices. To avail of the scheme, farmers were required to commit a 5% reduction of bovine livestock manure nitrogen.

 

While flexibility in the reference period was secured in the past few weeks to allow farmers more time to meet the 5% reduction, Teachta Carthy said that ‘this would only have the effect of kicking the problem down the road unless firm action was promptly taken to address the confusion that has become a hallmark of the scheme.’

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“Sinn Féin have been highlighting issues with the BEAM scheme for some time.  Now farmers are facing up to €40 million in clawbacks from the department.

 

“The Minister has bought himself some time but must now outline how he intends to address the deficiencies in the scheme.

 

“In the face of the ongoing pandemic and the fallout from Brexit, farmers do not need a department asleep at the wheel.  The Minister should immediately outline how he intends to address these outstanding issues so that farmers can have some level of certainty and stability.

 

“The debacle has arisen due to reports that Teagasc, and other agriculture advisors, differ to the department on methods to calculate nitrate figures under the scheme.

 

“It also seems there are delays of up to 6 weeks for farmers to even receive figures from the department – this needs to be promptly reduced, the Minister needs to identify the cause of this delay and he must address it immediately.

 

“Many farmers simply won’t have the money to pay back what the department will be seeking, and it is therefore incumbent on the Minister to outline his plan immediately”.

ENDS

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