Warfield announces stop staffless libraries campaign

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, Senator Fintan Warfield has today announced a ‘Stop Staffless Libraries’ campaign, aiming to stop the use of staffless hours in public libraries.

Senator Warfield said:

“Staffless libraries devalue and threaten the place of our libraries as social, cultural, educational and economic focal points. Few other public spaces can boast such a diversity of service.

“Staffless libraries will erode the very service they provide and will not facilitate greater access to programming, classes, exhibits, or workshops.

“They may also signal further staff reductions in the cultural sphere.

“The fightback against staffless hours has begun, and numerous local authorities have rejected the pilot scheme.

“We are calling on the public to contact their political representatives and urge them to protect our local services.

“The context of this campaign has been the threatened closure of a number of libraries, and reduced local authority funding in Budget 2017, amounting to a 7% cut of €22 million.

“Government are also planning a blanket, state-wide tender for the supply of literature and stock to public libraries. The result will negatively impact small and medium sized businesses and bookshops that specialise in specific genres, including fiction and non-fiction, and children’s books.

“Public procurement should seek to sustain and develop local communities and where possible and practical, should be an achievable reality for small business, not a threat to their existence.

“Libraries provide a beacon of local knowledge and information. Depending on the tender itself, be it national or international, we risk limiting the quality of local content available in Irish libraries.

“Across the arts, it is critical that we tell our own stories, be they on screen, stage or in print.

“Join with us in opposing the further downgrade of local services.” 

Warfield encourages public to ‘Stand Up’ to homophobic and transphobic bullying

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has called on schools and workplaces to support BeLonG To’s ‘Stand Up!’ week which aims to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying by increasing awareness, friendship and support.

Senator Warfield said:

“Despite substantial steps for equality in recent years, LGBTQI bullying and prejudice are still commonplace in Ireland. Due to this, our youth face distress coming out for fear of discrimination or mistreatment.
“The only proven way to tackle homophobia and transphobia is to make intolerance unacceptable in our schools, workplaces and wider society and for LGBTQI allies to support their friends, colleagues and family members. I am calling on schools and workplaces to support BeLonG To’s ‘Stand Up!’ week this week and put an end to homophobia and transphobia.”

Taoiseach’s cultural comments welcome, but actions speak louder than words

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has reacted to comments from An Taoiseach Enda Kenny who has admitted that this state has failed in the past to give the arts the support they deserve.

Senator Warfield said:

“While I welcome comments from An Taoiseach that acknowledge the reality of cultural poverty, actions speak louder than words. Only one month ago, the cultural budget was reduced by 16%.
“The 1916 centenary programme showcased Ireland’s wealth of talent, and the reality for many of those artists, across all forms, is a profession which does not support a living wage.
“Government must take certain responsibility for that and begin to build toward a creative environment where our talent can excel, live, work, and earn a living wage in a vibrant and diverse indigenous industry.
“Public bodies such as the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board all place a particular policy emphasis on the working environment of the artist. It is therefore not beyond the collective ability of Government as a whole to engage and address poverty across creative communities.” 

Senator Warfield encourages young people to get registered to vote

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield is encouraging young people to people to get registered before the 25th November deadline, particularly if you have turned 18 or are turning 18 before February 15th.

Senator Warfield said:

“It is increasingly important that young people get registered to vote and have their say on issues that affect them on a daily basis. Austerity hurt young people, damaged their future here, and the ‘recovery’ has yet to be felt by the majority.
“When you consider the Marriage Equality Referendum turnout, it is evident that young people can mobilise in massive numbers.
“I’m encouraging young people to get registered to vote, to ensure their concerns are on the political agenda and to demand a better future.
“You can download a registration from and check your details on www.checktheregister.ie” 

Government must protect hedgerow wildlife

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield speaking on today’s Heritage Bill in the Seanad says the proposed legislation will damage native Irish wildlife.

Senator Warfield said:
“Sinn Féin is opposed to the extension of the hedge cutting period, while providing a facility to permit farmers and landowners to continue to cut roadside hedgerows should they be a danger to road users.
“We believe the government’s bill as proposed may cause irreparable damage on Ireland’s flora and fauna.
“Sinn Féin is seeking to amend this bill to prevent any extension or derogation from the current hedge cutting period until sufficient research has been done in the area.”

Warfield expresses solidarity with striking teachers

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield, speaking on today’s ASTI strike has called on government to end pay disparity.

Senator Warfield said:

“Since the two-tier pay system was initiated for new entry teachers, it has seen our graduate teachers leave to Britain, Dubai, Australia and elsewhere.

“Young teachers who have found opportunities at home have been subject to lower salaries with equal responsibility, with an ASTI teacher starting on €8,000 less than those who started teaching in 2010.

“Nothing less than pay equalisation is acceptable.

“Sinn Féin send our solidarity to the teachers striking today and call on Government to initiate a Roadmap to Equal Pay for Equal Work without delay.”

Student loans rejected loud and clear

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield today attended the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) march. 

Speaking afterwards Senator said that the message from students is loud and clear, they don’t want student loans.

Senator Warfield said:

“We have seen the disastrous consequences of student loans in every country in which they have been initiated. In the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, all have taken on massive national debt, and created mass indebtedness of our young people.

“Student loans are a sure-fire way to stifle the access of third level to our young people, saddling them with debt early in their careers.

“I commend the USI and Students’ Unions on marching today in their thousands. 

“Sinn Féin support them fully in their call for publicly funded education, and our pre-budget alternative significantly increases public, state support for third level education, reducing the student contribution charge by €500.”

Arts, culture and film fleeced again

Cuts of over €30 million to the programme areas of Arts, Culture and Film in amount to cultural vandalism.

Despite that overall reduction, Minister Heather Humphries announced increased funding to a number of state bodies. Those increases are to be welcomed.

Young job seekers continue to face discrimination on the basis of age

While there is an increase to the weekly rate of Jobseekers Allowance, a policy of age discrimination continues.

Young people aged between 18 and 24 will see an increase of €2.70, bringing the weekly payment to €102.70, while 25 year olds will receive an increase of €3.80 from €144 to €147.80.

Government must recognise the value of our film industry

Tomorrow, Government have the opportunity to begin a process of repair and re-investment in our cultural and arts communities. As a party spokesperson for the arts, I have had the pleasure of partaking in the preparation of Sinn Féin’s alternative budget submission.

A key part of Sinn Féin’s arts proposal is investment in the film industry.

Investment in the Irish film and television industry provides multiple economic and cultural benefits, far beyond the direct employment of on-set cast and crews.

We shot a video, detailing Sinn Féin’s fully-costed budget proposals for the arts

Lynn Ruane and I hosted ‘Trinity Access 21’ Students in Leinster House today

Independent Senator Lynn Ruane and I today hosted twenty-five ‘Trinity Access 21’ students in Leinster House, to discuss our upcoming Electoral Amendment Bill aimed at reducing the voting age to sixteen years of age in local and European elections.

I tabled the Electoral Amendment (Voting at 16) Bill in Seanad Éireann and Senator Lynn Ruane agreed to back the bill.

Eoghan Gilroy is a Transition Year student on placement with Lynn. Eoghan was the student voice of these discussions and is also participating in the Trinity Access 21 project in Ard Scoil Laselle, Raheny.

Eoghan has developed an action research project which invites students to host school discussions on the value of being able to vote at age 16. Participating students will return to the Oireachtas in the new term and present this information for inclusion in the bill.

Young people are consistently seen as apathetic and indifferent to current and political affairs. The referendum for Scottish independence and the referendum for civil marriage equality represent a reality that is far different. Only by widening the political franchise can we really guarantee that the rights of young people stay firmly on the agenda of politicians.

In a joint statement today, Lynn said;

“It’s of the utmost importance that young people engage with politics and their local communities as early as possible and the ability to vote in local elections will be an important first step towards making this a reality. Moreover, at this crucial period for the future of the European Union, we need young people to contribute to the debate over the future of our role in that union and how best we can be represented going forward. I sincerely hope that by the 2019 local and European elections, Irish young people will be able to participate in that democratic exercise as fully enfranchised Irish citizens”.

Unstaffed libraries: at what cost?

Yesterday, we drove out to the LexIcon library in Dún Laoghaire, to join library staff in expressing opposition to Council management policy that sees the introduction of staffless library hours on Sundays.

Unstaffed or staffless libraries undermine, devalue and threaten the recognised place of libraries as social, cultural, educational and economic focal points.

Few other spaces can boast such a diversity of service.

Unstaffed libraries will undoubtedly facilitate increased opening hours but will not increase accessibility in areas of programming, classes, exhibits, and workshops, and may signal further staff reductions in the cultural sphere.

Libraries in the absence of staff will begin to erode the very service they provide.

I encourage people to express their support for staff at dlr LexIcon library and for the protection of our library services.

Culture Night offers an insight into the potential of a republic of culture

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield, speaking from Sinn Féin’s away day in Co. Meath, claimed that Culture Night 2016 offers an insight into the potential of a republic of culture.

Senator Fintan Warfield said;

“Culture Night has become a significant, all-Ireland, national occasion in which cultural institutions open their doors, extend their hours and facilitate engagement with over 350,000 residents.

“Those numbers underline the high levels of public appreciation for cultural and creative activity. Culture is a public good and should therefore be readily available and supported passionately by both states on this island.

“Three thousand events will take place between 5pm and 11pm tomorrow evening, offering an insight into the kind of levels of cultural activity that citizens could expect from a republic of culture, a republic that truly cherishes the arts, its culture and heritage.

“Culture Night showcases our wealth of creative talent and it is of paramount importance that those artists and creators are well resourced and paid fairly for their work.

“Culture Night has also become an all-Ireland occasion, highlighting the positivity of cross border partnership, and the obvious potential for greater all-Ireland initiatives north and south”.

Gender Recognition Act now represents the greatest obstacle to LGBT equality

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has called on the Government to address the glaring gaps in the Gender Recognition Act a year on from the passing of legislation, and has stated that the Act as is, now represents the greatest obstacle to LGBT legislative equality.

Senator Warfield said:

“Gender Recognition has enhanced the lives of many in the Trans community. Of that there can be no doubt. However, this state in no way offers a pathway to legal gender recognition for citizens under the age of sixteen.

“That is not acceptable and represents a massive obstacle to LGBTQI+ legislative equality.