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Opinion piece by Martin McGuinness on current political situation in the Assembly

This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

Martin McGuinness

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has described comments by Ivan Lewis, British Labour Shadow spokesperson on the north, on Friday evening as "high handed" and "unhelpful” at this time.

Declan Kearney said:

"Against the back drop of the growing austerity crisis in the north, and Theresa Villiers’ threats to escalate this situation into a full-blown political crisis, the remarks by Ivan Lewis were a poorly judged intervention.

“His criticism of Sinn Féin and other parties, and his choice of language were both high handed and totally unhelpful.

“Sinn Féin has an electoral mandate to oppose austerity in the north of Ireland, and to defend the living standards of our people. 

“We will not be complicit with the Tory agenda of decimating public services and inflicting hardship and poverty on the most vulnerable from all sections of our community.

“The Executive parties and civic society need to stand together to oppose austerity.  

“The labour movement must be central to that effort.

“As Labour Party spokesperson on the north, Ivan Lewis should be supporting that strategy, instead of acquiescing to the austerity cuts agenda of the new Tory government."

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has slammed Taoiseach Enda Kenny' refusal to recall the Dáil to allow it discuss businessman Denis O'Brien's threat to freedom of the press and the right of TDs to speak freely and in the public interest.

Gerry Adams said:

“I wrote to the Taoiseach today asking that the government recall the Dáil next week to discuss serious constitutional issues that have now arisen.

 "The Taoiseach's refusal this evening to respond to the huge public concern that now exists around these issues is another example of the sheer arrogance of Mr Kenny and his Government.

 "They consistently ignore or dismiss the suggestions and concerns of the Dáil opposition.

"They use their huge majority to ram through legislation without adequate debate.

“In recent months, there have been attempts to silence various Opposition TDs.

"Almost the entire Dáil opposition have signed up to a motion seeking a full Commission of Investigation into the sale of Siteserv.

 "Given this, and the serious Constitutional issues that have now arisen, the Oireachtas needs to reassert its authority.

 "The Taoiseach's refusal to recall the Dáil is a slap in the face to those who have raised these concerns and is another failure if political leadership on his part."

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Responding to the conclusion on the discussions between the government and trade unions, Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mary Lou McDonald said that the public sector workers on lower pay must be considered first and that the issue of excessively high pay in the public service remains.

Deputy McDonald said:

“From the outset, we have made clear to Minister Howlin that any new deal needed to prioritise lower and middle income workers.

“Everyone in the public and civil service has experienced pay cuts, but these have been particularly felt by those on low and middle incomes.

“The agreement has to be judged on that basis and if sufficient relief has been given to the low and middle income workers.

“The agreement does not represent full pay restoration for these workers.

“Questions could arise in particular for the lowest paid as to whether the increases envisaged in this agreement will meet the new taxes on water and property which Minister Brendan Howlin and the government have introduced.

“It also remains for government to tackle excessively high pay at the top end.

“The Minister must now come before the Dail and present the full detail of this agreement at the earliest opportunity.” 

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The chair of Belfast Sinn Féin’s youth movement Anthony Lowry will tell a rally in the city tomorrow his party will continue to campaign until marriage equality is achieved for all.   

The rally will be held outside Belfast City Hall tomorrow, Saturday 30 May, at 2pm.

Speaking in advance of tomorrow’s rally Anthony Lowry of the Mairéad Farrell Republican Youth said:  

“Sinn Féin will continue to campaign in the north for marriage equality for all and the Mairéad Farrell group is delighted to be taking part in tomorrow’s rally.

“Belfast City Council was the first elected body on this island to support the concept of full marriage equality after a proposal from Sinn Féin Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell was carried.

“And Sinn Féin activists and political representatives were to the fore in campaigning for last week’s landslide referendum victory on marriage equality in the 26 counties. 

“The referendum result provides us with an unstoppable momentum and we intend to continue the work to ensure that equality becomes a reality for all citizens across this entire island, including our LGBT brothers and sisters.

“The MFRY is calling for people to mobilise for all campaign rallies and events in the time ahead including next week’s mass rally organised by Amnesty International and the Rainbow Project.  

“We also call on all like-minded groups and individuals to work together in solidarity and partnership to achieve equal rights for our LGBT citizens in the North.”

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Tá sé tagtha chun cinn i dtuairisc a  d´fhoilsigh Údarás na Gaeltachta ar maidin  go bhfuil úsáid sóisialta an Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht ag laghdú níos tapúla ná a raibh measta acu i dtuairsc a tháinig uathu i 2007. Ceann de na rudaí atá aimsithe acu ná nach bhfuil ach 21 pobail ina labhraítear Gaeilge go laethúil ag 67% den daonra. Deirtear gurb é 67% an ´tipping point´ i gcomhair maireachtáil teanga.

Agus í ag tabhairt a tuairim ar an tuairisc inniu, dúirt Liadh Ní Riada, Feisire Eorpach de chuid Sinn Féin gur ´damnú é seo de na stráitéisí atá curtha i ngníomh ag rialtais leantacha, go háirthe an rialtas atá againn faoi láthair de bharr nach bhfuil suim ar bith taispeánta acu i maireachtáil an Ghaeilge mar teanga labhartha´.

Dúirt Ní Riada:

"Mar bhean ón nGaeltacht is cúis buairt é an tuairisc seo dom. Mar saoránaigh Éireannach, measaim go bhfuil sé náireach. Táimid ag dul i dtreo cuimhneacháin chéad bliain is muid réidh le comóradh a dhéanamh ar fís agus misneach iad siúd a d´fhógair Poblacht na hÉireann i 1916. Measaim gur damnú atá sa tuairisc seo de na stráitéisí atá curtha i ngníomh ag rialtais leantacha. Tá ag teip orthu ceann de na príomh spriocanna na réabhlóidí sin a chuir i gcríoch: maireachtáil agus forbairt na Gaeilge mar teanga labhartha.

"An mhalairt atá déanta acu. D´fhéadfá a rá fiú go bhfuil siad tar éis rudaí a dhéanamh níos measa. ´Sé an rud atá ag taisteáil ná tiomantas leanúnach ó cheanairí polaitíochta. Go dtí seo níl rud ar bith faighte againn ach ´tokenism´. Mar gheall ar an easpa tiomantas atá léirithe acu siúd atá i gcumhacht agus mar gheall ar na droch-stráitéisí, an aon ionadh é go bhfuil rudaí chomh olc sin?  Tá rudaí mar atá siad i láthair na huaire an-scanrúil. Samhlaigh cé chomh dona is a d´fhéadfadh sé a bheith dá mba rud é go dtoghadh an dream céanna arís.

Tá an easpa suime lán soiléir.  D’fhógair an Coimisinéir Teanga go raibh sé ag éirí as a phost de bharr nach raibh sé ag fáil tacaíocht ón rialtas. Is beag rud atá déanta ag an rialtas maidir le chur i ngíomh an stráitéis 20 bliana. Theip orthu go dtí seo an maolú tanga a ardú. Is beag infheistíocht atá déanta acu inti, agus cheap siad Aire le freagracht don Ghaeltacht nach raibh Gailge acu!

"Ar an taobh dearfach den scéal cuireann sé gliondar croí orm go bhfuil fórmhór de phobal na hÉireann go mór i bhfábhar an teanga. I suirbhé le déanaí dúirt 70% de dhaoine go bhfuil siad ag iarraidh méadú sa mhéid seirbhísí poiblí atá le fáil trí Ghaeilge. Tá sé iontach freisin rath gluaiseacht na Gaelscoileanna a fheisicint agus mar aon le fuinneamh na gníomhaígh teanga a oibríonn go crua ar mhaithe don teanga ar fud fad na tíre. Ach táim croí bhriste go bhfuil muid ag an bpointe seo.

"Creidim gur géarchéim é seo agus caithfear rud éigin a dhéanamh láithreach. Tabharfaidh Sinn Féin tacaíocht d´aon tionscnamh a chuirtear chun tosaigh chun an teanga laistigh de na ceantair Gaeltachta a shabháil is a dhaingniú. Beidh tiomantas leanúnach ag taisteáil chun é seo a dhéanamh mar aon le seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge a sholáthar, agus infheistíocht a dhéanamh sa gheilleagar sna ceantair Gaeltachta.”

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A report published today by Údarás na Gaeltachta has revealed that the social use of Irish in the Gaeltacht is declining at an even more rapid rate than predicted in their last report in 2007. It found that there are only 21 communities where Irish is spoken on a daily basis by 67% or more of the population (the acknowledged tipping point for language survival).

Responding to this report, Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South, has described its findings as ‘a damning indictment of the strategies implemented by successive governments, not least the current administration which has demonstrated no interest in the survival of the Irish language as a spoken vernacular’.

Liadh Ní Riada MEP said:

"As a woman from a Gaeltacht community, I find all of this to be utterly heartbreaking. As an Irish citizen, I regard it as shameful. As we embark of a programme to commemorate the vision and courage of those who declared the Irish Republic in 1916, this is a damning indictment of successive governments who have abjectly failed to deliver on a core objective of those revolutionaries: the survival and development of the Irish language as a spoken vernacular.

"Far from enhancing and developing the status of spoken Irish in Gaeltacht communities, the strategies implemented by those in power failed abysmally to achieve any appreciable improvement … in fact we have seen the reverse. Where we needed sustained commitment to the language from political leaders, we got tokenism and stroke politics instead. Given this lack of commitment to our Irish language community by those in power and given the lack of thought-out and measurable strategies over many years, is it any wonder that things are so bad? It is extremely worrying and God only knows how bad things will get if this Government is re-elected.

"The record speaks for itself. The former language commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin resigned, citing lack of Government support as the reason. There has been a shocking reluctance to implement the 20-year language strategy. They have failed thus far to lift the language derogation in the EU. Investment in the language is minimal, and they appointed a Minister with responsibility for the Gaeltacht with no Irish!

"On a positive note, I take heart that the majority of Irish people are supportive of the language and that a recent survey found that over 70% of Irish people want an increase in public services as Gaeilge. I take heart too from the ongoing success of the Gaelscoileanna movement and the continuing efforts of Irish language enthusiasts the length and breadth of Ireland. But I am heartbroken that we have reached a stage where the very survival of Irish as the spoken vernacular in Gaeltacht communities is doubtful. Mór mo náire!

"This is a cultural crisis and decisive action needs to be taken immediately to address it. Sinn Féin will actively support any initiative aimed at consolidating the language within those Gaeltacht communities. This will require sustained political commitment, including the provision of services through Irish and focused investment in the economy and social infrastructure of Gaeltacht communities. The alternative – the inevitable death of the Gaeltacht – is a scenario that we are duty-bound to resist.”

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Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has called for mechanisms to be put into place to ensure that the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, and their families, can get justice.

Crowe, who is a member of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, was speaking after a BBC Panorama programme again detailed fresh allegations of collusion between British forces with Loyalist Paramilitaries.

Deputy Crowe said:

“The Panorama programme last night highlighted fresh allegations of collusion between, the RUC, UDR and other elements of the British military and security personnel with loyalist paramilitaries, who were armed and trained to carry out attacks throughout the island of
Ireland

“This includes supports given to the so-called Glenanne Gang, who were responsible for more than a 100 killings in Mid Ulster and implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

“The Irish Government needs to establish independent investigations into the attacks that were carried out in this jurisdiction, including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and to create truth finding mechanisms to ensure that the victims and families get justice.

“It also needs to ensure that the British Government release all the files it has on the attacks.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has commented on the results of a Red C poll, commissioned by the European Movement Ireland that indicates that only 33% of Irish people agree that there should be an EU army.

The Dublin MEP said:

“The government should pay attention to these results as Irish neutrality continues to be weakened by successive Governments.

“This has included decisions to join NATO lead Partnership for Peace (PfP), and the utilisation of Shannon Airport to transport troops to join the illegal invasion of Iraq.

"This poll reflects the results of a similar poll commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance which indicated that a whopping 78% of Irish people agree that Ireland should have a position of neutrality.

"These polls strongly indicate that Irish people are loathe to support any Irish role in the growing militarisation of Europe, despite the Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker plans for the creation a Common European Army.

“Sinn Féin introduced a bill earlier this year designed to safeguard and protect Ireland’s neutrality but the government refused to support it. Labour’s refusal to support it was somewhat surprising considering the party supported the Bill when it was in opposition.

“The government is not listening to the electorate on this issue and should now make moves to reassure the voters that protecting Irish neutrality is essential.”

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Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has strongly criticised the Department of Justice for issuing a deportation order for a young family in Kerry, claiming the family is not economically self-sufficient. This is despite the fact that the family earn over twice what the government considers sufficient for a similar family on social welfare. 

The Ware family have three young daughters and the father, Shannon Ware is a Japanese interpreter. 

Deputy Ferris said: 

“This is a case of bureaucracy and ineptitude that will seriously harm a young family that has made a home in Ireland. The Ware family came from Canada, Mr. Ware to work as a technical Japanese interpreter. They have complied with every requirement of their visas and immigration process but now the Department of Justice says they must go. 

“The Ware family are a young, professional family that make twice what the government believes a similar family on social welfare can live on, though they claim the Wares cannot be ‘self-sufficient’ on what they make. I want to know what the government's thinking behind this is because it doesn’t make one whit of sense to me. Enda Kenny travels the world on taxpayers’ money to attract business to Ireland and when people come from abroad to facilitate that business they’re told they’re not welcome. 

“In starker contrast still is the governments work toward amnesty for undocumented Irish in America. While all will agree that this is a valuable exercise and one that Sinn Féin have pursued for many years, we cannot demand such compassion while refusing to show it ourselves. The Ware children have been told that they cannot finish their school year in Ireland but have to leave in mid-June. 

“I call on Minister Frances Fitzgerald to act without delay to stop this deportation.” 

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