Friday, February 19, 2010

"Tánaiste Coughlan has failed the people of SR Technics and remains indifferent to their plight"

Commenting on Government indifference to the former workers at SR Technics Balbriggan representative Fergus Byrne said:

“The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment needs to give an undertaking that she will immediately underwrite the applications from former SR Technic employees for third-level education courses while they await confirmation of the European Globalisation Fund to ensure that these people get access to courses before the close off date for funding under the Fund in October 2011.

“There needs to be an undertaking from the Minister that she will directly intervene in the decision by the Dublin Institute of Technology not to proceed with the proposed acceleration of the Engineering Systems Maintenance course for the former SR Technic employees, because of the failure by her Department to commit to, or underwrite funds for the course.”

“These former employees of SR Technics have been left in limbo. The application to the European Commission to draw down the European Globalisation Fund has been further delayed and in the meantime, these people are unable to take up the training and education courses that were promised to them eleven months on. All the minister has to do is to underwrite the funding of these courses but so far she has failed to do that, or to even give a commitment that she will.

“A proclaimed central plank of Government policy has been the development of the knowledge economy and the further training and upskilling of workers. However when I challenged the Minister today to underwrite funding for the course at DIT, she sat completely ignorant and indifferent to the plight of these workers.

“The Government and especially the Tánaiste have failed the people of SR Technics; failed to retain their jobs, failed to create alternative employment for them and now failed to guarantee them education, upskilling and training.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Byrne welcomes Agreement

Balbriggan Sinn Féin reopresentative Fergus Byrne has welcomed today's Agreement announced at Hillsborough Castle.

He said:

"The Agreement announced today is a very significant step forward for all the people of Ireland. I commend the Sinn Féin negotiators, the DUP negotiators and those of all parties and both Governments who contributed to this very welcome and positive development.

"Republicans throughout Ireland have been very patient not only over recent weeks but over recent years with regard to the vital issue of policing. A date has now finally been set for the long overdue transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast. That is a major achievement and it will also be a major challenge to ensure that policing services are delivered equitably and efficiently for all communities and that the justice system is independent and fully rights-based.

"I welcome especially the commitment to work on the outstanding issues from the St. Andrew's Agreement. That must include completion and full working of the all-Ireland structures, including the North-South Parliamentary Forum. Only yesterday in the Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee in the Oireachtas we discussed the progress being made in all-Ireland co-operation on education and how so much more can yet be done. The same applies in areas like health, transport, employment creation, agriculture and so on.

"The real test of this Agreement will be how it delivers improvements in the daily life condition of ordinary people, not only in the Six Counties but across this island."

Government failing to deal with organised crime – Byrne

Balbriggan Sinn Féin reopresentative Fergus Byrne said the current rise in organised crime shows that serial legislative change by the government has failed to deliver.

Byrne said money obtained by the Criminal Assets Bureau should be re-directed into community development.

He said:

“The amendments to the motion by the government are disgraceful. They are self-congratulatory and are in denial of the real facts about the increase in crime.

“While Garda numbers have risen many still do not have access to basic tools to perform their job such as new technologies and even email in some cases.

“The civilianisation of Garda administrative functions has not reached targets due to poor organisation and planning.

“The government should ring-fence money obtained by the Criminal Assets Bureau into community development and targeting the causes of crime. Crime prevention must be properly resourced.

“The current crisis with regards to organised crime shows that serial legislative change by the government has failed to deliver.

“There is currently not enough provision for community policing. Increasing community policing would reduce crime and enable contact with the community and opportunities for information gathering that would far outweigh any costs involved.

“As part of any strategy to target organised crime we must increase regulation of cash for gold schemes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these often provide a ready made market for stolen goods and have led to a rise in aggravated burglaries and bogus callers.

“There has also been a complete failure to date at national and EU level to address legal drugs.

“Although it is important to implement a National Drugs Strategy for 2009-2016, the first period of the National Drugs Strategy made no dent in drug use, in fact drug use increased substantially.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What kind of country do we live in if we won't even give proper care to sick children?

“Continued closure of ward at Crumlin Children’s Hospital a disgrace” - Byrne SF

Balbriggan Sinn Féin representative Fergus Byrne has described as “a disgrace” the continued closure of a 25-bed ward at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Byrne said:

“Cuts at Crumlin Children’s Hospital last year received national attention as parents of very sick children were forced to protest and seek media coverage of their plight. The closure of the 25-bed St. Joseph’s Ward was supposed to be temporary, with the facility reopening this year. We now find that the ward is to remain closed, with the knock-on effect of continuing cancellations and unacceptably long waiting lists for operations and procedures, some of them life-saving.

“In a Dáil debate on the hospital last year Health Minister Mary Harney described Crumlin as ‘a centre of excellence, delivering outstanding care to the sick children of Ireland’ and ‘the tertiary hospital for the vast majority of children with a serious illness’. Such honeyed words are meaningless when the Minister presides over a situation where the hospital is struggling and sick children and their parents are being put through further unnecessary anguish.

“If Minister Harney diverted to Crumlin Children’s Hospital even some of the taxpayers money squandered in tax breaks for the developers of private hospitals then not only could the closed ward be reopened but services at Crumlin could be expanded further.”

FAS - Enough of this nonsense. This government must get FAS tackling the jobs crisis

“Plan on internal control at FÁS effectively gave a two-fingered salute to taxpayers" – Byrne SF

 "The Report published today has shown conclusively that the blatant disregard for the plan of internal control at FÁS effectively gave a two-fingered salute to taxpayers in respect of best value for money and the training services provided.

"Following on from the other two reports in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s series on FÁS, today’s report should be the nail in the coffin for corrupt and crony practises that only served to benefit the Directors, the Ministers and senior civil servants.

"The new Board at FÁS have inherited the worst unemployment pandemic this country has ever seen and they cannot afford to be complacent. The actions of their predecessors have left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouths and this report magnifies the extent to which FÁS has been corrupted.

"The fact that certification could not be carried out competently by the State’s training and employment authority is an indictment on the former Board of FÁS and the Minister, and reinforces the responsibility of the Board to carry out their functions diligently.

"At a time when there are 426,700 people on the Live Register, when FÁS is needed most, the agency cannot be consumed by anymore scandals. The Minister needs to be proactive rather than reactive and should be in constant dialogue with both the Board of FÁS and indeed the workforce."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A FAS organisation that is open and effective is what the unemployed need! Not one which is full of Fianna fáil cronies.

Commenting after the Commencement Order for the Labour Services (Amendment) Act 2009 was signed by the Tánaiste on the 21st Jan 2010, Balbriggan Sinn Féin representative Fergus Byrne expressed his apprehensions about the Act, questioning the undiluted power given to the Minister and he set the task to the new Board to get FÁS back on track.

Byrne said:
“On publishing this legislation, the Tánaiste heralded a ‘root and branch cultural change in accountability and transparency at the organisation. But really the scandals at FÁS were the symptom, not the disease. The disease of corruption, cronyism, and careless expenditure is rotting away at public confidence, not only in State Bodies, but in the roots of Government itself.

“This Act on whole is a farce. Public confidence cannot be restored in FÁS while Mary Coughlan is at the healm, while undiluted Ministerial power still wields excessive influence over FÁS and its organisation. This Act may be doing a clear-out, but we are really only sweeping the dirt under the carpet. If the Minister is serious about reform, restructuring and fairness, she would not have afforded herself the powers that this Act lays down.

“The jury is still out on the new Board but I want to emphasise that they have a lot to prove in their new positions. At a time when there are 426,700 people on the Live Register, when FÁS is needed most, the agency cannot be consumed by anymore scandals. The people will take no more. What we need is vision to get this economy going again; to get people into education, training and employment. The culture of cronyism in some sections of FÁS needs to be wiped out completely and I hope the provisions for ‘whistleblower’ protection will have a key part in doing this

Same to you Mary Harney!

"Balbriggan Sinn Féin representative Fergus Byrne has called on the Taoiseach to sack the Minister for Health & Children and to dump the policies which she has pursued after the numbers of patients on trolleys in overcrowded hospital A&E units reached a record number of 500 on Wednesday.

Byrne stated:
“The crisis in our over-crowded hospital A&E departments is now worse than ever. Long forgotten by Minister Harney is her declaration of a ‘national emergency’ when there were actually fewer patients on trolleys than there were on Wednesday.

“As this crisis deepens the HSE is actually proposing to reduce the number of acute hospital beds by a further 1,100 in its plan for 2010. If 500 patients are on trolleys with the existing acute hospital bed shortage how many will there be under the HSE plan? 1,000? 2,000?

“The Taoiseach should sack the totally discredited Health Minister Mary Harney and he should dump the health policies which she has pursued on behalf of a succession of Fianna Fáil-led governments. This is not to in any way lessen the responsibility of all the members of those Governments for health care chaos, but to emphasise that a dramatic change in direction must be brought about.”