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Massive crowd in Dublin for Right2Water rally

Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to 80,000 people from all across Ireland traveled to attend.

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said documents released today by Sinn Féin clearly show the DUP acted in bad faith over the Welfare Reform Bill.



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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned those behind a shooting in North Belfast this evening. 

 Mr Kelly said;

 "This evening's shooting has left a man seriously injured and in intensive care. 

 "This attack was wrong and must be condemned. 

 "There can be no place for these type of actions in our community. 

 "Those behind this shooting are criminals and have nothing to offer this community.

"These attacks should end immediately.

"Anyone with any information on this attack should bring it to the police."

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said today that no amount of pre-election bluster from DUP leader Peter Robinson was a substitute for the serious work needed to implement welfare protections for the most vulnerable in society.

Michelle Gildernew said:

"The DUP's primary interest now is in doing a self-serving deal with the British Tories whose assault on the most vulnerable in our society has caused the ongoing difficulties for the Executive.

“The DUP and the UUP are pro-austerity parties and have much common ground with Cameron's cabinet of millionaires.

“In contrast Sinn Fein has stood against the Tory assault on public services and the welfare state.

“We have consistently and publicly declared our determination to protect children and adults with disabilities, the long-term sick and families with children against Tory cuts.

“That was our position before, during and since the Stormont House Agreement. That remains our position.

“There will be no progress on any other basis. These are red-line issues for Sinn Fein.

“No amount of pre-election bluster from Peter Robinson is a substitute for bringing forward the schemes necessary to implement the Stormont House Agreement.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has called on the people of North Belfast to reject any attempt to remove the democratic choice of the electorate to choose its representatives. 

Speaking after claims that the DUP are involved in a deal with the Tories to secure the Speaker's position at Westminster, Mr Kelly said; 

"This smacks of a grubby deal which places narrow self advancement and ambition above the needs of the people. 

"Instead of attempting to secure positions for selfish reasons the DUP should be focusing their attention on taking on the Tories over their savage cuts to public services. 

"Reports in British newspapers that Nigel Dodds was being offered the Speaker's position at Westminster is a further sign that the DUP fear change in North Belfast.

"There was a well publicised attempt by the Tories, at the last debate in the Commons before the Election, to change the method of selecting the Westminster Speaker.

"This would have meant that the Government, and not the backbenchers would have chosen who would be the Speaker.

"The attempt to change the rules failed as the present Speaker realised what was afoot.

"The Speaker of the House of Commons at Westminster automatically retains his or her seat at the following election. So  this is clearly another attempt to treat the voters of North Belfast with contempt. 

"That schemes like this are even being considered is a sign of the increasing nervousness on the part of the DUP over the future of the North Belfast seat. 

"I am calling on the people of North Belfast to see through this crass attempt to gerrymander the constituency by voting for real change on May 7."

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Sinn Féin's Niall Ó Donnghaile has welcomed the reinstatement of the 'Teenage Dreams' mural at Bridge End in East Belfast and paid tribute to the young people from the Doyle and Ballymac Youth Clubs for their fantastic work in producing a new mural and song of their own. 

Cllr Ó Donnghaile, who attended today's unveiling said;

"There was a lot of understandable anger when the original teenage dreams mural was removed, it had become immediate recognisable as people made their way into East Belfast. More importantly it acted as a great source of inspiration to young people in this part of the city, many of whom had felt the negative end of publicity and media coverage. 

"Today's event shows that teenage dreams are alive and well in East Belfast and that our young people continue to lead in a positive and proactive way. 

"Not only has the original mural been replaced but young people from the Short Strand and Inner-East Belfast came together to make a mural of their own, as well as write and produce their own song. 

"I'm delighted that Belfast City Council were able to support this initiative, along with DSD, Urban Villages and the fantastic Oh Yeah Centre who were central in helping the young people with their music. 

"It's hard to beat this kind of work and today's event is proof of that."

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said new councils must stand up for equality and seek progressive alliances at all times. 

Speaking at a Sinn Féin councillors' seminar in Derry this morning, Mr McGuinness said; 

"The 11 new councils which will come on line on April 1st present an opportunity to do things better. 

"Councils in which Sinn Fein are a significant influence must become models of equality, inclusivity and partnership. They must be exemplars of justice and fairness. 

"The new structures must become pillars tolerance, diversity and inclusion, reconciling and accommodating not just orange and green but all the other political, social and cultural colours that make up our society in the 21st century. 

"They must reach out and embrace minorities and the marginalised. They must set an example in the challenging task of reconciliation and provide an alternative to the triumphalism and domination which characterised unionist domination in local government in this state for so long.

"So we must at stand for equality and seek out progressive alliances at all times. 

"That is how we will block the DUP’s attempt to legalise anti-gay discrimination in the Assembly. The DUP sponsored Bill is going no-where. 

"The referendum in the south on marriage equality will move us further towards equality and inclusion on this island. We need to continue on that journey. As a society, north and south, we must realise equality for all our citizens."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the legal profession has a responsibility to challenge states which flout international human rights legislation. 

Speaking at a law student's society ball in Derry, Ms Anderson said; 

"Ordinary citizens look to you as lawyers to fight injustices, defend communities and to shine human rights law on state wrongs. 

"One case close to the legal profession which highlights the need for justice is that of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, who was murdered 26 years ago. 

"Despite the call on 2004 from Canadian independent judge Peter Cory for the British government to honour  its commitment to hold a public inquiry, the family are still waiting for justice. 

"26 years on from Pat Finucane's murder, David Cameron has still refused to order a full, formal public inquiry in the assassination.

"The decades of delay have but one objective; to bury the truth of a state murder trail that led all the way to Margaret Thatcher's door. 

"The case of the Bloody Sunday families and of Pat Finucane stands as a monument to the immoral failure of a British State that flouts international law and which corrupts human rights.

"There is a real need for campaigning human rights lawyers to stand up against injustice and challenge states who flout international human rights law, whether it is Britain's dirty war in Ireland or Israel's human rights abuses against the people of Palestine." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said he is not surprised by the figures provided by Age Sector Platform that 2,390 pensioners have died as a result of conditions related to fuel poverty over the past four years.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “Nearly 600 pensioners are dying needlessly each year due to conditions related to fuel poverty yet the Tory Government refused to extend the Warm Home Discount to the North.

 “This payment of £140 would go a long way to helping pensioners meet the cost of heating their homes during the coldest months of the year.

 “I have no doubt pensioners are choosing between eating or heating which is adding to their health issues causing early deaths.

 “We also need to have the supply of natural gas extended to all areas of the North giving pensioners a cheaper option than oil or electricity provide at the minute.

 “This extension of mains gas should no longer be deferred on the basis that it is not economically valuable to the supplier as everyone should have access to the cheapest fuels available.

 “I am calling on landlords and on social housing providers to embark on a scheme which will make pensioners’ home energy efficient so they spend less on remaining warm during cold periods.”

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Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has questioned the Health Service Executive (HSE) over changes they introduced which he claims have left many elderly incontinent patients with inferior pads. Crowe claims his views are backed by many service users and he has called on the HSE to immediately address the issue.

The Dublin South West Deputy was responding to a reply he received from the HSE to a Parliamentary Question that he asked on the issue, which suggests that the specifications for incontinent pads is currently under review in advance of any future contracts being awarded.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

"Families of elderly people and children who are incontinent have been in touch with my office regarding changes that have been made to the delivery and type of pads that had been introduced over the last twelve months, which they claim are inferior and have forced them say to double up their usage.”

“These changes are having a negative effect on vulnerable users and their families and this is clearly unacceptable.”

“The HSE’s suggestion in their reply to my parliamentary question that the pads be ‘fluffed up’ might seem reasonable to the authors, but disregards the physical ability of many of these users, some of whom also suffer from additional ailments like severe arthritis.”

“I do welcome that the specifications for incontinent pads is currently under review in advance of any future contracts being awarded.”

“These pads are vital for the dignity of the user and in many ways help people live a normal independent life.”

"For anyone using these pads, confidence and certainty about their quality, and the sustainability of the product is vital.”

"I suppose the most important factor is that they don't leak and can be relied on to last for a reasonable period.”

"Many people personally spoke to me of their hardship of having to ‘double up’ and that ‘accidents’ were constantly happening.”

"I would hate to think that in the race to save money in the HSE, vulnerable people were being used as guinea pigs for inferior products to somehow save some cash.”

“This appalling vista is the belief held by many of the individuals who approached my office and led me to submit a Dáil question on their behalf.”

“Numerous families also believe that the availability of pads have also been reduced in recent years, putting further pressure on their finances and their loved ones who are dependent on the pads.”

“Surely we need to be doing everything in our power to support these families and not cutting back on the quality and the basic essentials that necessary to live some sort of normal life. The fact that the present Government is doing this on the background of slashing the respite grant suggests that they give little thought to some of our most vulnerable citizens”. 

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Speaking ahead of this afternoons’ presentation on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to Oireachtas member’s, Sinn Féin Jobs Spokesperson Peadar Tóibín has accused the government of pursuing an agreement that will cost dearly in terms of sovereignty, worker’s rights and decent regulation in multiple areas.

The Sinn Féin West Meath TD said:

“Political sovereignty is central to Sinn Féin. We believe that Irish people should determine the future of Ireland. Not bondholders, not bankers, not developers, not London nor Brussels or Berlin and certainly not the proposed Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism attached to the EU/US trade agreement currently under negotiations. 

“This quasi and covert judicial system supplants existing robust domestic, European and international laws that provide the necessary protections for investors. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has actively sought and openly called for the ISDS mechanism to be attached to the TTIP agreement and this should be a cause of alarm for citizens, policy makers and businesses alike. 

“TTIP is damaging and will cost dearly in terms of sovereignty, worker’s rights and decent regulation in multiple areas. Big question marks remain around the inclusion of public services including public procurement; state owned enterprises and exactly what services are included in the negotiations. 

“It is my firm view that where opportunity exists with regards logical and practical work to make transatlantic trade more accessible and there are clear evidence based benefits to Ireland on such specific areas of trade these opportunities should be pursued. 

“However this is not what TTIP seeks to achieve. It will fundamentally undermine sovereignty, public services, hard won workers’ rights and regulations. At its core this is a deeply dishonest and secretive agreement that has been drafted in the interest of big business alone.” ENDS 

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