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DUP show contempt for talks process

"The refusal of the DUP to attend the opening of these talks showed utter contempt to all the other parties and the people who elect us. The last two years have been appalling because of the unwillingness and refusal of the DUP and other unionists to accept the democratic decisions." - Martin McGuinness MLA

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said today that the unionist ultimatum over an Orange Order parade in North Belfast continues to hold all-party talks at Stormont to ransom.

Conor Murphy said:

“We are in the second week of preparatory talks and to date we have no agenda, no timetable, no programme of work or no structure for chairing.

“We told the two governments that we are concerned that we don’t have a credible talks process.

“The British Secretary of State continues to engage with the DUP on the issue of the North Belfast Orange Order parade. 

"The British government is clearly playing political footsy with the DUP under the table. 

“We made it clear that Theresa Villiers that is a mistake on her behalf and it’s the wrong way to go about this process.

“We have held talks with both governments, the Alliance and the SDLP and agreed a meeting with the UUP.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has said there is a need for more women in public life. 

Speaking after addressing a 'Women in Politics' event at Stormont this morning, the Newry and Armagh MLA said; 

"For too many young girls growing up the only role models they see in the media conform to the offensive idea that their relevance as a human being is linked to appearance. 

"Young women and girls need positive role models in all aspects of public life, including politics. 

"Despite the fact that 53 per cent of the population is female, women hold only only 18 per cent of elected positions across the island. Of the 108 MLAs in the Assembly, only 21 are female and that is simply not good enough. 

"It is important that women are visible in public life as examples to younger generations. 

"While we in Sinn Féin are proactive about tackling gender imbalances, there is work for all political parties to do in increasing the number of women in politics. 

"Women played a key role in the conflict in the North and women also have a hugely important role in conflict resolution. The contribution women have made to peace building should be recognised and celebrated."

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The Sinn Féin on Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, has introduced a Bill to the Dáil proposing that the voting age for Dáil, European, and Local Elections, as well as constitutional referendums, be lowered to 16. The change would require that a referendum be held to alter the current constitutional provision.

Deputy Stanley said:

 “I am introducing this Bill in the hope that it will win all party support and ensure that the voting age is lowered to 16 prior to the next general election. The current government has committed itself to possibly lowering the age to 17, and has said that it will publish a Bill in the New Year. However, I would argue that the age should be set at 16, and that a referendum be held as soon as possible in order to ensure that this takes place before the next general election.”

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly also said:

“I have met with a range of youth organisations who are calling for this change. The fact that 16 year olds in Scotland were able to vote in the recent referendum caught the imagination of people here. The Scottish referendum blew the myth that young people are apathetic out of the water. Young people drove the turnout in the Scottish referendum in a way that was extraordinary. By doing so, they've shown that they are capable of getting engaged with politics.  If we get this right, we will take the first steps to creating a voter generation and democracy will thank us for it. I would hope that all parties in the Oireachtas support our proposal.”

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Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has called for fracking to be banned throughout the island of Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Colreavy said:

“The recent decision in the six counties not to extend the licence for the exploration company Tamboran Resources is a positive step.

“Tamboran has proposed to use fracking in the region of the Lough Allen Basin, an area which covers Leitrim and Fermanagh.

“I today called on the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to introduce a ban on the use of fracking in the 26 counties.

“Fracking is an unsafe means of extracting shale gas that could potentially have a serious impact on people’s health, the environment and the agricultural industry.

“The government should now stop fracking in its infancy rather than allowing companies to proceed to the next step of the licencing process.

“This makes sense not only for the environment, but also for the economy.

“The government should be acutely aware that under the proposed new TTIP international trade agreement, it may become possible for multinational companies to sue states for banning products or activities, possibly including fracking.

“To pre-empt any such action taken against the state, the government should introduce a ban on fracking now to avoid contravening any future trade agreement.”

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Speaking today after the first meeting of the European Parliament's Delegation to the US, Sinn Fein MEP for the Midland's North West Constituency Matt Carthy said:

"I am delighted to be appointed as a member of the EU Delegation to the US. This delegation is particularly important in terms of EU relations with America.

"The delegation engages with the US Administration and Congress, political actors, the media, academia, business and civil society to raise awareness of the EU issues and concerns and promote the importance of the EU- US relationship among the American public.

"The Delegation covers a broad spectrum of issues of mutual concern to the US and EU including Agriculture, Democracy and Human Rights, Development and Humanitarian Aid, Education, Energy and Environment, Jobs and Growth, Trade and Investment and Transportation.

"As the negotiations on the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership progress, I believe it is particularly important that Ireland's interests within the EU are fully protected and it is my intention as part of this Delegation to ensure that this happens to the fullest extent possible.

"I also intend to use my membership of this Delegation to build and strengthen relationships with our diaspora living in America and highlighting issues of concern to them. At the first meeting of the committee today I raised the issues pertaining to the Irish undocumented in the United States with the new EU ambassador to the US, David O'Sullivan, who promised to support the Irish government efforts to regularise their status.

"I look forward to getting involved in the interesting work that my role on this delegation offers and ensuring that the interests of Ireland are represented at every opportunity both in the EU and further afield." 

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Derry Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson Geároid Ó hEára has welcomed the creation of 35 jobs by Seagate in Derry. 

 Speaking after the jobs were announced this morning, Mr Ó hEára said; 

"This announcement that Seagate is creating 35 high tech jobs in the city is very welcome.

"These high-end jobs are what Derry needs to help boost our economy. 

"This is a significant commitment to the city by a major market leading global firm. 

"Seagate is one of the largest employers in the city and the fact that they have chosen to make this significant investment of almost £35million in their future in Derry is a hugely positive development which recognises the high quality of employees available in the north west

"I met with the global president of Seagate, Dave Mosely, last week in advance of this announcement at the Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and we discussed the need for further investment in the city. 

"Attracting investment from international companies, as well as encouraging our own small and medium sized enterprises and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship, is crucial to growing and developing our economy n Derry. 

"This is a very encouraging jobs boost and hopefully there will be many more positive announcements in the future."   

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has dismissed the new report commissioned by the government which calls for tax breaks for landlords rather than rent controls to protect tenants.

He made his comments following the publication of Rent Stability in the Private Rented Sector by DKM consultants.

Deputy Ellis continued;

"This report is another sop to landlords who have been shown to be making good profits off often substandard accommodation charging whatever rate they choose because they know people are desperate enough. The findings of this report that rent regulations would be worse for tenants flies in the face of the realities of the rental market and the experience of tenants at the moment.

“The report proposes tax breaks for landlords but this would only increase their profits and keep rents at the same rate. Rent rates are not currently inflated to unaffordable levels because landlords are taxed too high; they are inflated because of the shortage of housing and the desperation of those seeking it. Landlords are renting properties which are often overcrowded, damp, cold and under managed for astronomical rates, which are not sustainable given average incomes at present and the general cost of living. People have lost their homes due to rent increases while they continued to work a full time job.

“Recent Dublin City Council inspections found that 90 per cent of private accommodation inspected is not up to standard. The idea of giving landlords tax breaks to increase their profits further, on the hope they will invest in more housing, is clearly a bad idea.

“Rent controls will not solve all our problems but it will do a number of important things. It will stop unfair rent increases which are making people homeless. It will also foster a culture around renting in the long run, which makes it a more viable long term option which should push up standards. This will not work though, unless done in conjunction with major investment in social housing, to take the pressure off in the private market.

“The report does call for a code of conduct for landlords who are in arrears or rental properties being taken into receivership. Sinn Féin has been calling for this to be done for the last three years. A binding process whereby tenants are not left on the street because a landlord has failed to hold onto their property is needed.

“It is also shameful that so many properties are being held empty by banks who have repossessed them. We need to broaden the Mortgage to Rent scheme further to keep people in their homes.

“When a family working full time cannot afford to rent in the city they work it is clear that the rental market is not fit for purpose and regulation is essential. That must start with stabilising rents."

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Dublin City Councillor Cathleen Carney Boud has voiced strong opposition to proposals to convert the former Garda station at Whitehall into a city mortuary. In a formal objection sent to the Office of Public Works on October 16th 2014, Cllr Carney Boud expressed objection to the proposed use of the Garda station on a number of grounds.

The Sinn Féin elected representative stated:

“The Garda Station in its current state is not suitable to facilitate this type of use. To accommodate a city mortuary, the building would need extensive refurbishment and any major alterations to the building would be in breach of the preservation orders. A mortuary has specific needs in terms of its laboratory and water services and the suitability of the current underground services would be cause for concern”.

“In addition, local residents have also expressed strong opposition to the plans and their views must be respected. A listed building of this type should be firstly be considered for the use of the community, before anything else”

On the 21st of October this year Cllr Cathleen Carney Boud put forward a motion to the North West Area Committee stating that the Whitehall premises should be utilised for the benefit of the local community through the establishment of community resource facilities. The motion was agreed to by all Councillors and a letter detailing this will be issued to the Office of Public Works.

“A city mortuary is deserving of a purpose built facility and using a listed building is simply not appropriate. I strongly urge the OPW to take our objections seriously and to cease plans to refurbish the premises for this purpose. Whitehall Garda Station should be preserved for the use of the local community”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has thus evening reiterated his rejection of allegations made against him by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheál Martin.

Gerry Adams said:

"I want once again to reject in the strongest possible terms, entirely malicious and spurious allegations by the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil  Leader that I have any information regarding abusers being moved from the North, across border to this jurisdiction or anywhere else.

"If anyone - and that includes Mr Kenny or Mr Martin - have information regarding the whereabouts of anyone who is a potential threat to members of the community, they should make that information known to An Garda Síochána."
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