Restoration of funding to culture has begun but Government are not on course to double funding in seven years

In response to Budget 2019, Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the restoration of funding to cultural bodies and agencies but has called on the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to finally offer clarity about the government’s commitment to double arts funding by 2025.

Senator Warfield said:

“In 2017, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar committed to double arts funding over seven years. Two budgets later, the government have only increased spending on culture by 13.8% (from €130.2m to €148.2m), a long way off an increase of 100%.

“Minister Madigan said today that this budget demonstrates a realisation of that promise. But the figures simply do not back that up.

“Artists continue to be left devastated by austerity. According to CSO data, artists now earn 3.5% less income than they did in 2013.

“It is therefore critical for the Arts Council to ensure that the full 10% increase provided by Government is passed on to artists who have been making brilliant work, while struggling for years to make ends meet”.

Government must recognise the economic contribution of the arts, heritage, and audio-visual, and invest accordingly

In advance of Budget 2019, Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has called on Government to recognise the economic contribution of the arts, heritage, and audio-visual sectors and to significantly increase investment in the people and organisations that create this wealth.

Senator Fintan Warfield said:

“Together, the arts, heritage, and audio-visual sectors have a combined economic value of more than €4 billion and support 73,088 jobs.

“Despite the considerable impact of these sectors, the state continues to under invest in the people and organisations that create this wealth.

“Creativity is acknowledged as an economic driver; an essential input into business, economy and social policy, essential if we are to survive and thrive in a new economy.

“In our Alternative Budget 2019, Sinn Féin would significantly increase funding through existing channels, but more than that, we develop new funding policies that would ensure equality of access, opportunity and reward within the cultural sector.

“It is time for an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to make good on his commitment to double arts funding and to begin that process in the Budget next week.”

Warfield welcomes positive development for the availability of PrEP

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI Rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed today’s announcement by HIQA that they are starting a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programme to be rolled out in 2019.

Senator Warfield said:

“It is encouraging to see that such forthright moves are being made toward the availability of PrEP in Ireland.

“The response to rising HIV rates in recent years has not had an effect in bringing down transmission rates. Therefore, a programme in which PrEP is accessible to those at risk of HIV is urgently required.

“I look forward to seeing the results of this assessment. A PrEP programme must also address under resourced testing services.”

Vital amendment to archive digital works passed in the Seanad

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI Rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the passing of a Sinn Féin amendment in the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018 to allow certain libraries to sweep and archive the ‘dot-ie’ domain, despite Government opposition.

Senator Warfield said:

“The amendment allows for the creation of a legal digital deposit, which would allow the National Library of Ireland and others to sweep the dot-ie domain and archive digital publications.

“This deposit is already established in as Britain and most other EU countries, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

“The absence of this deposit has created an ever-increasing hole in our national memory which will make the future understanding of our society difficult.

“This is a live issue as the average life of an individual web page is 100 days.

“I am glad to see common sense prevail and I look forward to see this proposal come to fruition”.

Warfield welcomes Minister’s statement on drug-safety testing at music festivals

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed confirmation from the government that a stakeholder-led working group will be convened by the Department of Health to examine the provision of drug safety testing at music festivals and nightclubs in 2019.

Senator Warfield said:

“During a commencement debate today with Minister Catherine Byrne on the subject of drug safety testing, the Minister confirmed that a commitment to establish a working group to investigate best-practice in drug safety testing will commence in 2019.

“According to Eurobarometer poll in 2014, use of psychoactive drugs in this state among 15-24 year olds is the highest in Europe. This has become apparent at our music festivals where the use of MDMA, ecstasy, ketamine and cocaine are all common.

Sinn Féin launch electoral and voting reform document

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Youth Affairs Senator Fintan Warfield has launched a new party policy calling for reform of the electoral and voter registration system.

‘Enhancing Democracy’ contains a number of different initiatives that a Sinn Féin government would undertake in order to encourage and foster active electoral participation across all of society.

Senator Warfield said:

“’Enhancing Democracy’ sets out how we believe the state should engage young and first time voters, as well as radical proposals that will widen electoral participation across all of society.

“The activism of young people in recent referenda is evidence that when engaged, young people demonstrate interest in participating in the political process. This is despite the obstacles that exist, including a lack of formal education, promotion and difficulties in registering to vote.

Harm reduction services at festivals should include drug-safety testing

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Youth Affairs, the Arts and LGBT rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has today commended the Ana Liffey Drug Project and Electric Picnic who will facilitate a harm-reduction service at Stradbally this weekend.

Senator Warfield said;

“The provision of educational materials on drugs and alcohol, as well as one-to-one advice and referrals are an important part of a health-led response to drug and alcohol use – but we can do more.

“Harm-reduction services at festivals should be allowed to include confidential drug safety testing facilities for festival goers who consider using drugs.

“Sinn Féin believe that the success of harm-reduction initiatives abroad that offer confidential drug safety testing at music festivals confirm the need for similar initiatives at Irish music festivals.

Have a safe, happy and healthy trans pride

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Youth, Arts and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield wishes the trans community, allies and friends a safe, happy and healthy trans pride as the first protest march takes place in Dublin today.

Marching with Sinn Féin at the Dublin trans pride march today, Senator Warfield said:

“Today’s march is a special event that celebrates trans and non-binary identities.

“While the Gender Recognition laws look set to become one of the most progressive models in the world, there are still an array of issues that need action immediately.

“Issues such as a trans healthcare system that works off a medical-diagnostic model which doesn’t comply with WHO or WPATH guidelines, or our response to trans people’s mental health, where 78% of the Irish trans community have had suicidal thoughts.

“Our Government can do such much more in their response to meeting the needs of the transgender community and I call on government ministers to further engage with the trans community regarding meeting those needs.”

Senator Warfield welcomes release of Gender Recognition Review

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield, has welcomed the publication of the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 which has recommended a number of measures including extending gender recognition rights for trans youth and non-binary persons.

Senator Warfield said:

“I am pleased with the report which is ambitious in its recommendations but absolutely necessary as the law progresses to a place that embraces LGBTQI identities.

“The primary recommendations were also a core tenant of the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 which I tabled in the Seanad and unanimously passed second stage in March last year and I am glad that this legislation formed a framework for the Gender Recognition Review.

Warfield welcomes passing of Children and Family Relationships Amendment

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcoming the passing of Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill 2018 through the Oireachtas today. This legislation will allow for commencement of parts 2 and 3 of the primary legislation, which will give shared parental rights to certain same sex parents and give recognition to their families.

Senator Warfield said:

“Today is a really important day in the lives of many LGBTQ parents and their families and a proud day for those who vigorously campaigned to that end. It has been hard fought for and long overdue.

“Three years on from marriage equality, Government have finally corrected technical errors that left legal uncertainties for parents and their children.

Government needs to exonerate gay/bi men after state apology

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has submitted amendments to a motion before the Dáil and Seanad today that apologises to men convicted under the anti-homosexuality laws pre-1993.

Sinn Féin’s amendments, if accepted, commit the government to initiate legislation that will also exonerate those convicted by the same laws.

Senator Warfield said:

“An apology on the part of the state for the treatment towards the LGBTI community is welcome.

“It is more than appropriate that the state should apologise for institutional discrimination and admit that it has historically mistreated the LGBTI community.

Apology without exoneration would mean little to convicted LGBT people

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to not stifle efforts to vindicate the LGBT people convicted under anti-homosexuality laws, and that a simple apology will not be enough if LGBT people will still hold wrongful criminal records.

Senator Warfield said:

“The Taoiseach and Micheal Martin TD exchanged views today in the Dáil on the potential state apology before the 25th anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality.

“The Taoiseach asserted the view that a cross party motion may go before the Dáil beforehand to allow for this but relented on the calls to exonerate, stating that there may be difficulties establishing the facts of certain cases.

Sinn Féin calls for hate crime legislation on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has called on Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan to bring forward robust hate crime legislation as a matter of urgency.

Senator Warfield said:

“I’d like to commend the LGBTQI activists and our allies across Ireland in their efforts in eradicating Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia this year. However, this state remains the only western European jurisdiction without standard hate crime legislation.

“Hate crime is a manifestation of prejudice and bigotry amongst a society and it’s no longer acceptable to leave LGBTQI people or other marginalised communities in Ireland vulnerable.  

Senator Fintan Warfield welcomes Facebook announcement banning referendum ads from abroad

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the announcement today that Facebook will ban all paid advertising from outside the State during the ongoing referendum campaign.

Senator Warfield said:

“The move by Facebook today follows revelations that substantial amounts of money are being directed into adverts targeting voters in the referendum. Such advertisements   purport to be fact-based, objective websites, however, such advertisements favour the ‘no’ side of the referendum campaign.

“Last week in an unprecedented move, Facebook reached out to the government in relation to fake news during a public vote. 

Seanad passes Bill to ban LGBTQ conversion therapies

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the passing of the Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018 through second stage in the Seanad today.

Senator Warfield said:

“This bill not only bans the deceptive and discredited practice of LGBTQI conversion therapy, but it sends a message from this State that we consider sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to be inherent to a person and as such, cannot be ‘changed’ or ‘converted’.