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Demand for Israeli ambassador to Ireland to be expelled reiterated

A solidarity protest by Sinn Fein MLA's and support staff at Stormont in support of the beleaguered people of Gaza heard a call from West Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan that the Israeli ambassador to Ireland should be expelled from the country immediately over the slaughter of hundreds of civilians by Israeli forces attacking Gaza.

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Young republicans from the Mairead Farrell Republican Youth group are taking part in a 24 fast to raise funds for people in Gaza. 

Speaking ahead of a solidarity vigil on the Whiterock Road, Eoin MacShane, chair of the group, said; 

"Young people across the world have been outraged at the suffering of the people of Gaza caused by the Israeli onslaught. 

"In particular, the deliberate targeting of children and the shelling of schools in which people are sheltering has resonated with young people.

"As a result of the brutal bombardment of Gaza, together with the ongoing Israeli blockade, there is a growing humanitarian crisis among the Palestinian people. 

"We wanted to do something to help and to give people an opportunity to show their opposition to the Israeli brutality in Gaza so we decided to stage a 24 hour sponsored fast. 

"The funds raised will go directly to aid organisations helping the people of Gaza. 

"Working with the Whiterock Residents Group we decided to stage a solidarity camp to show our support for the people of Palestine." 

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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD has repeated his criticism of the Irish government decision to abstain in the vote on the Israeli assault on Gaza at Wednesday’s emergency debate at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

Mr. Adams pointed out that “the UN resolution is reasonable and balanced. It reads:

‘The Human Rights Council…Condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire, and urges all parties concerned to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.’

The refusal of the Irish government to support this resolution was a shameful act of political cowardice.”

The Sinn Féin leader made his call today after the Israeli military bombed a UN school in Gaza killed 15 people and injuring many more.

Mr. Adams repeated his earlier call for the Irish government to expel the Israeli Ambassador.

Mr. Adams said:
“The bombing by Israeli forces today of a UN school and the killing of at least 15 Palestinian civilians, is further evidence of the failure of the Irish government and others in the international community to defend the civilian population of Gaza.

The Israeli government is acting with impunity and the EU and the Irish government are failing to stand up to Israeli aggression.

The statistics of death and destruction, and in particular the slaughter of women and children, has to be stopped.

The government should move immediately to expel the Israeli ambassador in a clear message of condemnation of the actions of the Israeli government”.

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 Sinn Féin member of the Agriculture Committee Declan McAleer MLA has welcomed the additional detail announced by Minister Michelle O’Neill regarding the new £623 million Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020. 

Mr McAleer stated,

“The Rural Development Programme is an important strategy in developing the rural economy and this money will ensure that we can continue to build communities and local businesses.

“The money will be used in developing the Agri-Food industry, protecting the environment and improving facilities and infrastructure in the rural communities.

“Amongst the programmes that will benefit will be a range of measures aimed at encouraging the economic development of our rural areas.

"A £27m Rural Business Investment Scheme will provide support for investments in the creation and development of non agricultural activities.

“There will also be a Rural Basic Services Scheme and money made available to improve Rural Broadband Scheme.

“Other schemes aimed at developing our rural economies include a Rural Tourism Scheme, a Village Renewal Scheme and an All Island co-operation Scheme

“Money has also been set aside for the running costs of the Local Action Groups bringing the total investment to over £623m.

“This is the largest amount of money that has ever been earmarked for rural development and will allow rural areas to access services others take for granted as well a being a catalyst for economic regeneration.

“This strategy has the potential to create thousands of jobs and I look forward to seeing this money invested in order to maximise that potential.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann has welcomed the extension of a public consultation on plans to create more affordable housing.

Speaking after the consultation was extended until September, the West Belfast MLA said; 

"One of the proposals out to consultation is a plan to require developers to provide a certain amount of houses in new developments as affordable housing. 

"This is an issue that Sinn Féin has raised repeatedly in recent years. 

"On its own, this proposal will not deal with the huge waiting lists but it could create additional social housing which would help end the nightmare of homelessness for some. 

"The consultation had been due to run until August but now it has been extended until September 23. 

"I would encourage any interested groups and individuals to take part in that consultation and make their views known." 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, has called for some compensation to farmers for another delay in the start of the GLAS scheme. This was to substitute REPS, for which there has been no replacement this year at all.

Deputy Ferris said:

“We were told that GLAS would start in January 2015, but now the Minister says that first payments are not expected until the end of 2015 and some farmers will have to wait until early 2016.

“The lack of a replacement for REPS hit the more vulnerable farmers hard and asking them to wait for another 18 months before any GLAS payments come through will be too much for some.

“The application process is not to start until December, but that is pending approval by the EU commission of the Rural Development Programme, so there is no guarantee that it will start on time.

“Does the Minister not understand how so many farmers are fighting for survival and need some support now?”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on EU Foreign Ministers to act with the same resolve against Israel as they have against Russia.

Martina Anderson said:

“As a member of the European Parliament and while not questioning their actions in regard to the situation in Ukraine I find it incredulous that Member States Foreign Ministers have moved to impose stringent sanctions on Russian Officials ‘deemed’ responsible for their country’s action yet stand idly by whilst Israel is allowed to massacre hundreds of helpless Palestinian civilians, one in four of which are children with impunity. Where is the morality in this position?

“Let me be clear, the situation in Ukraine is terrible and unacceptable but when is the EU, UN and the international community going to get the courage to tell Israel – your expansionism, aggression and collective punishment of the Palestinian people is unacceptable. Tell them that unless they cease and desist and enter into meaningful negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people chosen by the Palestinian people that the full range of sanctions being threatened against Russia – visa bans, asset freezes and a halt to all military and economic aid and cooperation – will be also be imposed on Israel.

"In the first instance the EU/Israel Association Agreement should be suspended as Israel has breached Article 2 of the Agreement with its ongoing violations of Human Rights in Gaza.

“It’s past time for world leaders including EU Foreign Ministers to stand with the oppressed against bully nations such as Israel.”

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Sinn Féin Health spokepserson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described the report of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva on the practice of symphysiotomy as a "severe indictment" of the Irish Government's failure on the issue. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva has concluded that the Irish Government has failed the victims of symphysiotomy and has failed to hold to account those who carried out this barbaric practice in Irish hospital for decades. The UN highlights the scandal that these operations were carried out without the informed consent of the women.

"The UN Committee has expressed concern at the State’s failure to initiate a prompt, and comprehensive independent investigation into symphysiotomy. It is also concerned at the failure to identify, prosecute and punish, where still possible, the perpetrators for performing symphysiotomy without patient consent and to provide effective remedies to survivors of symphysiotomy for the damage sustained as a result of these operations.

"This UN conclusion tears to pieces the defence presented by the Irish Government to the EU Committee, a defence that tried to justify and explain away the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy.

"I call on the Government to now implement the recommendations of the UN Committee and to initiate a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into cases of symphysiotomy, prosecute and punish the perpetrators, including medical personnel, and provide an effective remedy to the survivors of symphysiotomy for the damage sustained, including fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation, on an individualized basis.

"As recommended by the UN, the Government should now facilitate access to judicial remedies by victims, including allowing successful passage of the Statute of Limitations Amendment Bill introduced that I presented in the Dáil in 2013. In the case of those opting for the ex-gratia scheme provision should be made for a challenge to the sums offered to them, as also recommended by the UN.

"This UN report is a vindication of those who have campaigned for truth and justice for all the survivors of symphysiotomy."

Hunger Strike Commemoration 2014

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