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31 May 2007 Edition

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Make up of new government hangs in the balance

Sinn Féin TDs Martin Ferris, Arthur Morgan,Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and  Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Féin TDs Martin Ferris, Arthur Morgan,Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Féin TDs Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Arthur Morgan, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Martin Ferris met in Dublin on Wednesday afternoon to review the outcome of the election campaign and to begin preparations for the incoming Dáil, including the formation of a new government. This follows a meeting of the party Officer Board, TDs and Assembly group on Monday.
Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that over the last few days the party had begun to review the outcome of the general election and “while we are disappointed that we did not make the gains which we had hoped for, our vote did continue to rise and in a number of constituencies we came very close to taking a seat.
“We are determined to regroup and to build on this in the run up to the Local Government and European elections in 2009.
“Today the party’s TDs are meeting to begin preparations for the incoming Dáil, including the formation of a new government. At this stage it is not clear who will lead this government, what type of coalition options will be required or if that will include Sinn Féin. We are open to talk to either bloc but for Sinn Féin the key issue is the political platform. Our support for any government would be dependent on a programme which would end the crisis in the health services, prioritise investment in primary school education, build social and affordable housing and support job creation. We will also seek support for a Green Paper on Irish unity.
“Sinn Féin’s job, in government or in opposition is to ensure that these issues are put on the agenda and to campaign and work until delivery is secured.”

Sinn Féin’s priorities

Health
•    Immediately halt co-location
•    Deliver into the public hospital system the additional 3,000 beds required.
•    Reverse cutbacks in services at local hospitals.
•    Make advanced screening services available locally, promptly and widely
•    Produce a fully resourced suicide prevention strategy.
•    Medical cards for all under 18.

Housing
•    Construct 70,000 new housing units by 2012 to accommodate social housing need.
•    Amend the Planning and Development Act (2002) to require that all new developments must allocate 30% to social and affordable housing.

Education and childcare
•    Immediately reduce all class sizes for children under 9 to a maximum of 20 pupils.
•    Prioritise action on autism to ensure the earliest intervention for all who need it.
•    Introduce universal pre-school session of 3.5 hours per day five days per week for all children 3-5 years.

Equality
•    Introduce a cost of disability payment
•    Increase resources for local drugs task forces and rural drugs task forces

Lasting Peace and Irish unity
•    Complete a Green Paper on Irish Unity within one year and appoint a Minister of State to co-ordinate the Government’s all-Ireland policies across Departments.
•    Introduce 6 County elected representation in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Balanced regional development
•    Rolling out of broadband across the state to assist job creation.
•    Building of a North West motorway/high speed dual carriageway serving the route from Dublin to Donegal/Derry.
•    A pro-active job creation strategy for towns devastated by the decline in manufacturing, textiles and the sugar beet industry.
•    Adoption of a major Research and Development strategy including extra assistance to SME’s and new businesses to develop business plans for R&D.
•    Appoint a full Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources and reform the oil and gas exploration licensing and tax regime and renegotiate contracts.

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An Phoblacht
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