Updates

Seanad statements on the Report of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution

Through the Chair, I firstly wish to commend Senator Catherine Noone for the role you played as Chairperson of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

I think you were calm, patient, fair, and everything an institution like this can hope for in the conduct of a Chairperson, and those traits all the more impressive when we consider the issue at hand, and indeed the behaviours of some.

For quite a while, it has been apparent that we would be discussing, in our first sitting week back, the Report of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

And isn’t it something that on our return, that during the first statements of 2018 – the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland, we debate, discuss, and converse about where Ireland lies concerning women’s healthcare and women’s rights.

An Irish AIDS Memorial would go a long way to ending stigma

At a HIV Ireland conference in Smock Alley Theatre to mark 30 years since their foundation, well-known LGBT activist Tonie Walsh delivered an insightful presentation focussed on the potential and ability of an AIDS memorial to enable communities to “memorialise loss and grief, which allows them to better value and share the coping mechanisms and survival strategies of a previous generation”.

I listened with pride on December 1st, 2017, as President Higgins quoted Tonie, at a reception in Áras an Uachtaráin, to mark World AIDS Day, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of HIV Ireland, and to pay tribute to people and organisations working to assisting people living with HIV and to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Stunning AIDS memorials exist in Toronto, New York City and Durban, South Africa.

Ireland should now follow suit.

Warfield welcomes landmark PrEP ruling

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI Rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the case ruling today that has allowed generically manufactured PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) to be made available within the state. PrEP is the pre-emptive use of drugs which reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%.

Senator Warfield said:

“PrEP is currently being analysed by the HSE and NCPE for cost-effectiveness. The decision made by the High Court today will mean that more cost-effective generic versions could be the difference in making PrEP available through the HSE.

Budget 2018 increases in Arts and Culture ‘meagre’ and ‘unambitious’

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson for the Arts Senator Fintan Warfield has described the Budget 2018 measures relating to the arts and culture ‘meagre’ and ‘unambitious’.

Senator Warfield said:

“Despite promises made from by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the government would double funding for the arts over seven years, the cultural budget for 2018 received a paltry 6% increase.  The same budget was decimated by Fine Gael at the helm of the last government and now is the time to start returning effective investment that stands up for artists and audiences alike.

Sinn Féin call for an Artists Studio Spaces Scheme in Budget 2018

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has called on the government to initiate a capital project in Budget 2018, for the development of an ‘Artist Studio Spaces Scheme’.

Such a scheme would develop State owned cultural infrastructure that offers security of tenure to artists across the country.

Senator Fintan Warfield said:

“Sinn Féin believes that designers, musicians, dancers, visual artists, web developers, and performers can and should be offered insulation from the commercial rental market and that such security of tenure can be provided through affordable, State owned spaces, rented to artistic tenants for short and long term tenancies that ensure fairness in access.

It is time to stand up for artists and audiences in Budget 2018

In advance of Budget 2018, Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson for the Arts Senator Fintan Warfield has called on the government to enhance investment in the cultural sector.

In the Sinn Féin Alternative Budget 2018, proposals include:

  • An increased investment of €6.5 million in the Arts Council. (10% increase)
  • An increased investment of €0.5 million in Culture Ireland. (14% increase)
  • An increased investment of €4 million in the National Cultural Institutions. (10% increase)
  • An increased investment of €2 million in the Irish Film Board. (15% increase)
  • A funding increase for Heritage (including Moore Street and Cultúrlann) of €5.25million.
  • Implementation of a new Artist Studio Space Scheme worth €5 million.
  • Development of a National Youth Arts Strategy with an implementation programme worth €5 million.

Sinn Féin call for Youth Arts Strategy in upcoming budget

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield today launched Sinn Féin’s ‘Standing up for Young People’ pre-budget alternative alongside Deputies John Brady and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire.

Sinn Féin is committed to the development of a National Youth Arts Strategy which would promote participation, progression and provision of the arts for young people over three years.

Senator Warfield said:

“Young people must be seen as artists and participants in their own right rather than as audiences or future artists.

Warfield supports calls for Irish AIDS Memorial

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has backed the proposal by activist Tonie Walsh for a memorial that commemorates those who have died from AIDS in Ireland, as well as their caregivers and activists. This proposal is being presented at HIV Ireland’s National Conference on HIV and Stigma today in Smock Alley, Dublin.

Senator Warfield said:

“The proposal made by Mr. Walsh is a great initiative. People who are HIV positive still face massive stigma and prejudice today and this gesture by the state could go a long way to break down some of that stigma.

Government are failing to implement basics of sexual health strategy

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield speaking in reaction to a HSE internal document that shows the Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS) is operating out of a “run-down, condemned building”, has said it further highlights to Sexual Health Strategy’s failure to prioritise effective sexual health services.

Senator Warfield said:

“We are halfway through the Sexual Health Strategy‘s timeline and yet, the only tangible and targeted response for MSM (men who have sex with men) sexual heath is the GMHS. While the GMHS is exceptionally run despite limited resources, it is a Dublin centric response and can only do so much. This report highlights that even the narrow responses to the strategy that are being delivered are done so without vigorous support from our institutions.

Marriage Equality campaign will not be deterred by decision in Belfast High Court

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield, in reaction to the dismissal of the ‘Equal Marriage Petition’ in the Belfast High Court today, has said the decision is a ‘disappointment’ but the vibrant and growing campaign for Civil Marriage Equality will continue regardless.

Senator Warfield said:

“It is unfortunate that the case was not successful today but I am certain that the campaign for Marriage Equality will remain as focused, vibrant, and energetic as ever.

Taoiseach’s attendance of Belfast Pride event ‘significant’

Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI Rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that he plans to attend an event on the morning of Belfast Pride Parade.

Senator Warfield said:

“When the Taoiseach spoke at Dublin Pride in June, he committed to press for all-Ireland marriage equality. The reality of partition is a disparity of rights on this island where citizens can lawfully and equally marry in Dundalk but not Newry, Monaghan but not Armagh, Buncrana but not Derry.

‘Vote at 16’ referendum swept under the carpet again

Reacting to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s referenda plans, Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has criticised the government for failing to uphold their Constitutional Convention mandate to hold a referendum on reducing the voting age from 18 to 16.

Senator Warfield said:

“It has been over four years since the Constitution Convention recommended that the State should consider reducing the voting age to sixteen.

MSM need certainty regarding HIV prevention

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has urged the government to take affirmative action on rising HIV transmission rates in light of the customs seizures of large quantities of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a contraceptive drug taken daily by MSM (men who have sex with men) to prevent HIV infection.

Senator Warfield said:

“Over 500 new diagnoses of HIV were recorded in 2016 while the rate of transmission has been growing steadily for the last five years. PrEP has been proven to combat these rates in other states successfully.

Trump’s decision regarding transgender community is abhorrent

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has condemned the announcement made by US President Donald Trump outlining his intention to ban all transgender persons from serving in the US military.

Senator Warfield said:

“The tweets by President Trump will do incalculable damage to the cause of LGBTQI equality both in the US and further afield. It serves only to further institutional stigmatisation and discrimination of the transgender community.

Census results highlight serious trouble ahead

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has stated the need for a serious conversation about Ireland’s future population projections and the underlying issues that these forecast, given the publication of Census 2016 figures on the age profile of Ireland, saying that “there has been very little effort to address the issue of youth emigration or provisions put in place to encourage our emigrant’s home”.

Senator Warfield highlighted that the number of people between the ages of 20-34 has decreased by 119,252, a fall of 12%.