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31 January 2008 Edition

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Sinn Féin sets out priorities for new Dáil term

SINN FÉIN’S Oireachtas team – including the party’s four TDs, Senator Pearse Doherty and Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald – met on Tuesday, 29 January, in advance of the resumption of the Dáil on Wednesday to discuss the party’s political priorities over the coming weeks.
As the Dáil returns, both the Labour Party and Fine Gael are focusing solely on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s finances, a fact that is allowing the Government to avoid addressing a number of serious issues that have arisen during the Oireachtas recess.
Speaking after the meeting, Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that while Sinn Féin will be pressing for full co-operation by the Taoiseach with the Mahon Tribunal, the party will be pursuing its own priorities in the weeks ahead, including the Lisbon Treaty referendum, job creation, creating an effective health service, and community safety.
“Economic developments, and in particular addressing the recent significant number of job losses, will also be a key priority for Sinn Féin in this coming Dáil term,” Ó Caoláin said. “We will be demanding Government action to create new jobs and to retrain vulnerable workers.
“Community safety and addressing the policing and social needs of communities throughout the state will be another of Sinn Féin’s key priorities for this Dáil term. Our Justice spokesperson, Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh, will head up this campaign.”
The Cavan/Monaghan TD said that rural and regional development will be a priority and he continued:
“Addressing the crisis in the health services will, of course, remain one of Sinn Féin’s key priorities going forward and I will be demanding that the Minister for Health increases the threshold for qualification for the medical card. People are being denied access to primary care as a result of the scandalous failure by this Government to increase the thresholds in the December Budget.”
Speaking to An Phoblacht, Deputy Ó Caoláin said that the Oireachtas team will be working with party organisers in undertaking a significant number of engagements on their various portfolios across the state. These will include planned trips by Aengus Ó Snodaigh to a several urban centres as part of the Community Safety Campaign and further visits by Arthur Morgan to areas affected by job losses.
Martin Ferris will engage with farmers and fishermen and undertake a number of joint initiatives with Six-County Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew while Pearse Doherty will engage with those campaigning around education issues, including school buildings.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin himself will be travelling to a number of constituencies to support campaigns on the issue of local hospital services.
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