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Irish and British governments must refocus efforts on the North

The Irish and British governments should refocus their efforts to defend the political process in the North and to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements as we approach this Sunday’s 20th anniversary of the historic and groundbreaking IRA cessation of 1994, Gerry Adams has said.

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said that local councils must adopt a flexible and reasonable attitude to the imposition of interest on Non Principal Private Residence charges and Minister Kelly should review the written guidance to councils on the collection of the charge.

Speaking today Deputy Doherty said:

“Many people who now face a total bill of well over €7,000 from the 1st September were not even aware that they are liable for the NPPR. I am aware of cases being taken with the Ombudsman by citizens who feel they have been ambushed by this charge.

“Guidance issued by the Department allows for local to provide flexibility in cases of genuine hardship. This includes writing down or waving of fees.

“Councils must make full use of this flexibility to make sure fairness prevails. Minister Kelly should review this guidance and to ensure that those who were genuinely not aware of the charge to be free from massive late payment fees.

“When the Fianna Fail/Green government introduced this charge it was labelled a ‘Second Home Tax’. However, despite Sinn Féin’s objection at the time they included not only those with second homes but people who had only one house but as a result of circumstances were not living permanently in those homes.

“These include emigrants who have been forced to leave the country as a result of economic hardship and many in rural communities who have been forced to leave their homes, moving to larger cities and renting home in search of work.

“These people have been forced from their homes as a result of government policy yet they are now not only being punished with the NPPR but are being hit with a massive late payment bill as well.

“Sinn Fein’s Councillors across this State will use their influence to ensure a reasonable and flexible approach is taken by local councils where an application for flexibility because of hardship is submitted.”


Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has written to the Agriculture Minister calling on him to withdraw the proposed 50% Collective Agreement from the Fast track entry criteria to the GLAS scheme set out in the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

In his letter Mr Carthy has reiterated concerns from hill farmers across Ireland and has urged Minister Coveney to use the time before the RDP is implemented to remove the Collective Agreement requirement and allow active hill farmers to access GLAS in their own right.

Carthy, who addressed a meeting in Westport last week attended by over 1,700 Hill farmers said;

“Hill Farmers have correctly stated that the collective agreement proposals within the GLAS criteria are unworkable, unfair and discriminatory. I intend to support them in every way possible in their battle against this provision”.

Following discussions with Hill farmers from across the region MEP Carthy has also called for an increase to Natura Land payments to €150 per hectare from the proposed €79 per hectare for both privately owned and commonage Natura.

Last Wednesday’s Westport meeting was attended by 1,700 incensed Hill farmers from across the West as well as farmers from Tipperary and Cork, confirming that this is a widespread national issue.

As a follow on from the Westport meeting Donegal Hill farmers will be meeting on Friday 5th September in the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny at 8pm to once again express their concern and call on the Minister to address their apprehension.

MEP Carthy stated;

“This proposal is another attack on rural Ireland by discriminatory government policies. These conditions are out of touch with the needs of Hill farmers. Sinn Féin stands with Irish Hill farmers on these issues and look forward to seeing progress made on them from the Department. I am calling on Minister Simon Coveney to respond positively to my representations”.



Sinn Féin MLA Rosie McCorley has welcomed a series of free intensive Irish language classes offered by DCAL as part of the Líofa initiative. 

The West Belfast MLA said: 

"Culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín's announcement of intensive Irish language courses to be held across the North is great news. 

"These dianchúrsaí will cater for all levels of learners, from complete beginners to more advanced speakers. 

"Clases will be held on Saturday, September 13 from 10am to 4pm. 

"The intensive courses are a great opportunity to start learning Irish or to brush up on whatever Irish you may already have. 

"They also provide advice on follow-up classes in your local area. 

"These free classes are being offered at a range of locations in each of the Six Counties as part of the hugely successful Líofa initiative pioneered by Carál Ní Chuilín, which is promoting fluency in Irish. 

"This further highlights Sinn Féin's commitment to the promotion and development of the Irish language." 

Classes will be held at the following locations; 

Down - Gaeláras Mhic Ardghaill, Newry

           - Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle

Fermanagh - County Council offices, Enniskillen

Tyrone - Cookstown Library

             - Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

Anrtim - An Droichead, south east Belfast

             - Croí Éanna GAA grounds, Glengormley

             - Coláiste Feirste, west Belfast

Armagh - Athletic grounds, Armagh

Derry - Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry

           - An Carn, Maghera


Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said emigration is having a devastating impact on rural communities across the North.

 The Deputy Chair of the Assembly's Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee was speaking after it was revealed that 25,438 people left the North from mid-2012 to mid-2013.

 Mr Flanagan said:

 "These statistics paint a very bleak picture and highlight the very real demographic challenges facing many areas. On average, 489 people left the north every week during this period.

 "Rural areas in particular have been very badly hit, not only by emigration, but also by young people moving to more urban areas for university and for work, the majority of which will never return.

 "This then present serious social challenges for local communities in terms of sustaining rural schools and fielding football teams.

 "Despite all the recent fanfare around job announcements, there is still a huge lack of job opportunities in rural areas. Much more needs to be done to create jobs to enable people to continue living at home in their own communities instead of being forced abroad in search of employment."


Two leading Sinn Féin representatives, Francie Molloy MP and the Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD will be engaging in a speaking tour across Australia from August 30 to September 7 2014, visiting Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

Speaking today Francie Molloy said:

 “Sinn Féin has emerged from the local government and European elections held in May as the largest political party on an all-Ireland basis, with the surge in popular support resulting from the party's strong opposition to austerity, north and south.

“There is a clear message that we will be taking to Australian political representatives, trade unionists and community leaders of promoting a united Ireland and the need to call on the British and Irish governments to hold a referendum on Irish reunification under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.  

“Already dozens of Australian MPs, trade unionists and community leaders have added their names to an Irish Unity Motion."

Mary Lou McDonald TD continued:

“Further to this we will also be continuing to promote awareness among Irish workers on temporary visas in Australia of their rights in the workplace, and promoting trade union membership among the Irish community.

“The tour will aim to engage not only with the thousands of young Irish people who've been forced to emigrate as a result of austerity policies, but also to build connections with progressive parties and unions fighting against austerity in Australia.”

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