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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 MEP Liadh Ní Riada spoke today from the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the need to reduce the administrative burden on Irish fishermen.

Ms Ní Riada, who sits on the Committee on Fisheries, submitted a number of amendments to the upcoming 'Omnibus Regulations' which will impact on fishermen in Ireland.

Ní Riada stated:

"These amendments seek to reduce the administrative burden on fishermen by gradually introducing the Landing Obligation regulations which will come in under Omnibus.

"I am also calling for an allowance to be made for changes in mesh net sizes. Specifically in relation to the use of 80mm nets when fishing for queenie scallops.

"Fishing for queen scallops is a significant part of the Irish seafood market employing hundreds of people from coastal communities. Restricting fishermen to the use of 120mm regulated nets will make scallop fishing impossible.

"While EU regulations allow for scallop fishing with dredgers, net catching scallops is less harmful to ocean life and a more sustainable solution.

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has accused the Taoiseach and Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fail Leader Martin of making grievous accusations against him in relation to allegations made by Maria Cahill and of never once seeking Mr Adams version of events.

He also accused Mícheál Martin of playing politics with a deeply serious issue, which he said was disgraceful.

Mr Adams made his remarks during exchanges between himself, the Taoiseach and Mícheál Martin today during Order of Business in the Dáil.

When Mr Martin raised the issue of the Dail debating the issues surrounding allegations by Mairia Cahill, Gerry Adams said:

“Sinn Fein has no objections to the Oireachtas looking at any allegation of abuse. However, the Fianna Fáil Leader and the Taoiseach have made grievous accusations against me.

“Neither the Taoiseach or the Fianna Fáil Leader have ever come to me and asked me for my version of events. There was no cover-up by me or by Sinn Féin in this matter.

Following heckling by Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheal Martin, Mr Adams said:

“This man is playing politics with a deeply serious issue and he doesn’t have the gumption to ask me what my version of events is. It is disgraceful.”

Following remarks by the Taoiseach in which he misrepresented Gerry Adams’s recent blog on the issue, Gerry Adams reiterated the point that the Taoiseach was “politicising the issue”.

He went on:

“I am very conscious that there are people out there who are victims of abuse and who are watching this. You cannot make the type of assertions you are making here Taoiseach.”

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Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams tonight commemorated the founders of the Irish Neutrality League while highlighting the erosion of Irish neutrality by the State over the past three decades. Speaking at the invitation of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance in Liberty Hall, Mr Adams also addressed attempts by John Bruton to undermine the political significance of the 1916 Rising.

Mr Adams stated:

“While the Irish who died in the First World War should be commemorated, let that not blind anyone to the nature of the war itself. It was a war between imperialist powers, in which kings, emperors, capitalists and war-lords sent millions to their deaths.

“Irish involvement in the war was essentially a question of democratic rights. After John Redmond made his speech calling in Irishmen to join the British Army, he was repudiated by the Irish Volunteers who stated that, “Ireland cannot with honour or safety, take part in foreign quarrels otherwise than through the free action of a National Government of her own”.

“The Volunteers also rejected partition; “any undertaking to consent to the legislative dismemberment of Ireland”. This was in the context of Home Rule being “on the statute book” at Westminster. You will recall that former Taoiseach John Bruton thinks this was so great an event that it made the 1916 Rising unnecessary.

“Isn’t it strange then that Mr. Bruton is so worried that honouring the men and women of Easter 1916 would retrospectively justify violence when he has nothing to say about the role of John Redmond and his party in sending tens of thousands of Irishmen to fight Germans and Austrians and Turks with whom Ireland had no quarrel?

“Was John Redmond not a man of violence?

“I suspect that behind Mr. Bruton’s Redmondite crusade is a fear, not of violence, but of the Proclamation. You see, the Proclamation enshrines principles and commitments to equality and Irish sovereignty that still challenge the privileged in our society.

“I believe that key elements of the political establishment also fear that the principle of Irish neutrality and internationalism, articulated by the men and women who formed the Irish Neutrality League 100 years, will again become the main guiding light of Irish foreign policy.

“We have seen how successive Governments in this State have eroded Irish neutrality over the past three decades.

“That is seen most starkly in their allowing the use of Shannon Airport as a military staging post for NATO forces.

“We saw again during the summer the outpouring of Irish solidarity with the people of Gaza and condemnation - in marked contrast to the slíbhín attitude of the Government – of  the horrific assault on them by the Israeli government.

“This solidarity is the real face of Irish foreign policy, not the forelock-tugging and cringe-making approach that we have seen from the current Irish Government.

“We in Sinn Féin are fundamentally committed to positive Irish neutrality, non-membership of military alliances, independent foreign policy and an international order based on the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, under the auspices of a reformed and democratised UN.

“We have repeatedly called for Irish neutrality to be enshrined in the Constitution and will continue to do so.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, speaking today from the European Parliament, blasted the European Council for its failure to live up to a promise to "invest in people".

Ms Ní Riada, who sits on the Committee of Budgets, said that Europe seemed happy to continue on the same destructive path of austerity and highlighted the impact felt at home saying:


"It is widely recognised that the austerity policies emanating from Europe are having a hugely negative impact on our people. In my own country, 16000 people in County Kerry are using food banks. Around Europe, thousands of our children are living in abject poverty and things are getting worse. It is scandalous and simply not fair!

"Emigration is still a huge problem. In Ireland 200 people are emigrating every day that is 8 Irish per hour are forced to leave their country. The same is happening in Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy. The people emigrating are young and well educated people. This is a brain drain and our future is in jeopardy.

"It is very clear that some countries are suffering more than others.

"In addition to this, the lack of interest shown by the Commission in regards our fishermen is scandalous. In Ireland our fishing communities are in a state of crisis. The tradition of our coastal communities is being destroyed, not only in economic terms but it is destroying an age old cultural tradition.  It is obvious that there is little hope either for their future with what is awaiting them in 2015.

"We have to move away from these disastrous policies and towards sustainable investment. Jobs need to be created and people need to be given a break."

Ní Riada called for the President of the European Council to act on these issues and to stick to the promises that had been made and also highlighted the issue of delays in payment to projects and programmes in Universities, Research Institutes, SMEs and civil society

"In Ireland there are 51 million euro payment claims in delay. 24 million payment delays for the European Social Fund and 27 million euro in European Regional Development fund.

Ní Riada made the point that there was always money readily available to the banks but not to our people and asked if any assessment had been done as to how many had been affected by this delay.

"How many people have lost or are at the risk of losing their jobs in SMEs and other civil society entities? How many programs of research in our Universities, how many programmes for regional development, for support of small producers, fishermen are or are at risk of being suspended as a result of the delayed payment claims?"

ENDS

Cháin feisire Eorpa Shinn Féin Deisceart, Liadh Ní Riada, Comhairle na hEorpa toisc gur thréig siad gealltanas a thug siad ínfheistíocht a dhéanamh i ndaoine.

Tá Ní Riada mar chomhalta den Coiste um an mBuiséad agus dúirt sí go bhfuil sé soiléir go bhfuil an tAontas Eorpach sásta leanúint ar aghaidh sa treo millteach céanna.

Agus í ag labhairt faoi na deacrachtaí sa bhaile dúirt sí:

"Athnaítear go forleathan go bhfuil an méid déine a bhfuil ag teacht ón Eorap ag cur brú olmhór ar ghnáth daoine. Tá 16000 daoine i mo thír féin, i gContae Chiarraí, ag baint úsáid as banc bia. Timpeall na hEorpa, tá na míllte páiste ag maireachtáil i mbochtanas, agus tá an scéal ag dul in olcas.

"Is fadhbh ollmhór é an eisimirce chomh maith.  Tá 200 duine ag fágáil Éireann gach lá.  Sin 8 duine gach uair a chloig. Sa Phortaingéil, d´fhág 128 míle daoine i 2013. Tá na rudaí ceannan céanna ag tarlú sa Ghréig, sa Spáinn agus san Iodáil. Is daoine óga atá ag fágaint..is iad san ár dtochaí.

"Tá sé soiléir go bhfuil tíortha éagsúla ag fulaingt níos mó ná tíortha eile.

"Mar aon le sin, tá an neamhshuim atá léirithe ag an gComisiúin i dtaobh na hiascairí scanallach.  In Éirinn tá ár bpobail iascaireachta i gcruachás mór. Agus is léir nach bhfuil mórán dóchas dóibh don todhchaí le tuilleadh gearradh siar i ndán dóibh i 2015. Tá traidisiún dé phobal an chosta á scriosadh, ní amháin ar chursaí eacnamaiochta ach táthar ag cuir deireadh le traidisiúin cultúrtha ag dul i bhfad siar.

"Caithfear bogadh ó na beartais déine agus bogadh i dtreo infheistíocht agus fás a bhfuil inbhuanaithe. Caithfear postanna a chruthú is sos a thabhairt dóibh siúd a bhfuil i ngatar."

D´iarr Ní Riada ar Uachtarán Comhairle na hEorpa a bheith gníomhach ar na ceisteanna seo agus a ngealltanais a choiméad. Léirigh sí an fhadhb atá ann i leith moilleanna in íocaíochtaí do chláir ollscoileanna, institiúidí taighde agus gnóthaí bheaga agus mheánmhéide.

"In Éirinn tá cosc curtha ar 51 milliúin euro d´éilithe íocaíochta de. 24 milliúin i gCoiste Shóisialta na hEorpa agus 27 milliúin i gCiste Forbraíochta Réigiúnaí na hEorpa.

Léirigh sí an slí go raibh go leor airgead ann do na mBainc ach rud ar bith do dhaoine. D´iarr sí ar an gComhairle measúnú a dhéanamh ar na méid daoine a bhfuil  ag fulaingt de bharr na moilleanna seo.

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Speaking today in the Seanad on the European Stability Mechanism (Amendment) Bill 2014 - Second Stage, Senator Kathryn Reilly said that the proposed Bill would not live up to the unfulfilled government promise of separating banking and sovereign debt.

Senator Reilly said:

“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste triumphantly claimed that banking and sovereign debt was to be separated in 2012. Sinn Fein welcomed the announcement cautiously. Over two years later we are still waiting.

“Sinn Féin put forward an amendment which would compel the Minister to apply for a retroactive recapitalisation this year. This amendment was brought forward during the Dáil debate on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Amendment Bill. The government as well as Fianna Fáil voted down this amendment.

“The Bill sets up a Direct Recapitalisation Instrument which permits some guidelines to be added to the ESM  Treaty. The legal status of those guidelines seemingly can’t be explained by any Minister. No one can claim the instrument lives up to the grand ambition of separating banking and sovereign debt. The total funds available are extremely small while the rules mean that the sovereign, the people, would still have to take a hit.

“Sinn Fein has kept retroactive recapitalisation on the agenda. However we are continually told that we have to wait until the Direct Recapitalisation Instrument is established before headway can be made on retroactive recapitalisation. Although it's to be established in a matter of weeks, the government can’t even commit to applying for retroactive recapitalisation.

“By ratifying this Bill without holding the government to account on its plan to secure recapitalisation, the Government will be let off the hook.

“Minister Noonan stated in the Dáil that some of the opponents of our recapitalisation have left their posts. But the obvious remains: the governments haven’t changed. Not one voice has come out in support despite letters from the Taoiseach and to EU leaders and Minister Noonan’s commitments that it is being raised at all appropriate levels.

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West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer is calling on local community groups to get their village plans prepared ahead of the new £8million Village Renewal Scheme, which will open for applications in 2015.

 According to Mr Mc Aleer 

 "The Village Renewal Scheme is part of DARD’s Rural Development Programme (2014-2020) and aims to tackle dereliction by supporting the refurbishment of derelict buildings, particularly for use as community facilities.  

 “The programme, which is currently being considered by the EU Commission, will provide funding for derelict and vacant site enhancement, recreational infrastructure, shop frontage enhancements and environmental improvements.

 “The Village Renewal Scheme is linked to village plans and has a particular focus on addressing rural dereliction.   Along with the Basic Services Scheme and other measures in the programme, this will help strengthen our villages, which are the heart of rural communities. 

 “I have met with DARD officials and spoken to the Minister Michelle O'Neill about this programme and during these engagements the importance of a partnership approach between local authorities and communities was underlined. 

 “DARD has proposed to award grants of up to £500,000 to local councils to roll out village schemes in conjunction with local communities.  If villages do not currently have a plan, I strongly encourage them to make contact with the local council to assist them with the planning process.”   

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In the wake of serious scandals concerning the Gardaí earlier this year, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn welcomed the much anticipated Garda Síochána Bill 2014 to the floor of the Dáil today.

He welcomed many of the proposals contained within the bill but cautioned that there was still need to strengthen some of the provisions.

“I am very pleased to welcome this bill to the house today.  It is fair to say we have been waiting a long time for it.

“It has been a very disturbing period in terms of the whole area of the administration and application of justice in this State. 

“Public confidence has been fundamentally undermined by the incompetence, and at times arrogance, that this government has shown in overseeing all the episodes that have emerged in the recent months and, indeed, years.

“We will seek to amend the Bill to ensure that GSOC will have access, on a statutory basis, to the PULSE system to assist in their investigations. This amendment would include a Criminal Justice Inspectorate encompassing An Garda Síochána; The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission; The Director of Public Prosecutions; The Probation Service; The Courts Service and The Irish Youth Justice Service.

“Our amendment will also include the recommendation of a single Ombudsman as opposed to the three commissioners as laid out in the Bill. This would ensure a greater degree of accountability and that there is no possibility of dissenting opinions or divergence in the Ombudsman’s findings.”

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on the Environment, Brian Stanley TD, has described Irish Water as a mess. He was speaking during a Dáil debate on Irish Water on a day when it was revealed that only a third of households have returned the forms posted to them, and that the Government has instructed the company to conduct a review of its communications. Earlier, a question from Deputy Stanley revealed that Irish water is receiving 70,000 calls a week. The Laois TD claimed that many of them were not being answered.

Deputy Stanley said:

“Every day it seems brings new revelations regarding the mess that is Irish Water. The understandable anger over the level of bonus payments is just the latest and will hardly encourage confidence in the company, despite the review into their communications announced this afternoon.

“To make matters worse, it was revealed earlier today that just a third of Irish Water customers have filled in and returned their forms containing their PPS numbers and other details. That means that somewhere around one million households have not returned their forms. That has forced Irish Water to seek an extension of the deadline for their return to the end of November.”

He reiterated Sinn Féin’s commitment to abolish the water charges and to bring the water services under a more efficient and accountable management.

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said today that an independent inquiry is required into the role of MI5 and the British Intelligence services into the abuse of children at the Kincora Boys Home.

The Newry Armagh was speaking after British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers announced the case would be dealt with by the Historical Institution Abuse Inquiry.

Conor Murphy said:

“While I have full confidence in Judge Hart’s handling of the inquiry the reality is that the HIAI does not have the powers to compel members of the British intelligence services to give evidence.

“The British Intelligence services have already subverted two inquiries into abuse at the Kincora Boys Home.  

“Theresa Villiers’ assurance that MI5 and the Ministry of Defence will co-operate with Judge Hart does not inspire confidence. 

“It remains our view that only an independent investigation with the full powers to compel witnesses to give evidence will bring justice to the victims of abuse in Kincora.”    

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