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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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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Michael Colreavy TD, has launched Sinn Féin’s submission to the Green Paper on Energy.

Speaking on the issue, Deputy Colreavy said:

“Sinn Féin’s submission to the Green Paper on Energy aims to put people at the heart of energy policy in Ireland. Currently, energy policy is being pushed by energy companies. Sinn Féin believes this must change to a policy which reflects the needs and the demands of ordinary citizens. Our energy policy should also be informed by the level of employment opportunities made available by different options.

“The first step the government can take in this refocussing is to rectify the current situation regarding the erection of wind turbines. Sinn Féin’s Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2014 should be brought to committee and remaining stages. This will see proper regulations regarding the construction of wind turbines implemented and give communities piece of mind. We repeat our call on industrial wind farm developments.

“The North/South Interconnector, along with the GridLink and GridWest projects, is controversial. Sinn Féin believes that these transmission cables should be placed underground. It is imperative that all energy infrastructures are compliant with the highest possible safety standards.

“Sinn Féin is committed to renewable energy. However, we feel that the current approach being taken by government is too heavily reliant on wind energy and there should be a mix of renewable sources brought on stream. Sinn Féin has identified tidal/wave and biomass energy as two possible rich sources of renewable energy in Ireland.

“Semi-state bodies must take the lead on developing renewable energy in Ireland. The ESB, Bord na Mona and Coillte have all been identified by Sinn Féin as potential leaders in the field of renewable energy production. With proper focus from government, there is potential to create jobs, create energy and ensure a balanced and secure energy supply into the future.

“Ireland’s natural resources must be for the benefit of the people of Ireland. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources must adopt a progressive approach to our offshore oil and gas reserves. Sinn Féin calls on the minister to introduce a progressive tax rate of 40%, 60% and 80% dependent on the size of the oil or gas field.

“Fuel poverty is an issue that must be taken seriously by government. There should be no cuts to the National Fuel Scheme and Household Benefits. The government should work to increase the number of homes that are retrofitted for insulation. The minister should also work at a European level to make fuel poverty a central issue across all member states. The Commission for Energy Regulation should be given every assistance possible to ensure that there is a fair, transparent and consumer friend energy market in Ireland.

“An all-Ireland approach should be adapted to energy policy. The North-South Ministerial Council should take responsibility for the Single Energy Market (SEM) project.

“It is demonstrably clear that fracking should not be used anywhere on the island of Ireland. It has yet to be proven that the process of extracting unconventional gas by means of fracking is anyway safe for human health or for the environment. It should never be allowed on a small island like Ireland. Ireland should also remain nuclear free.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has reiterated his call for the Irish government to expel the Israeli Ambassador following another day of Israeli attacks on the civilian population in Gaza.

The Sinn Féin leader also accused the Irish government of “political cowardice in abstaining today in a vote during an emergency debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva which seeks to establish an international Commission of Inquiry into allegations of war crimes.”

Mr. Adams said:

“Almost 700 Palestinians have now been killed in 15 days of intense attacks by Israel by land, sea and air. According to the United Nations 74% of those killed by Israel have been civilians. Homes, hospitals and schools, including buildings housing refugees, have been bombed by Israel.

"One hospital was bombed four times and four people were killed and scores of people were injured. Thirty of the wounded were medics. The Israeli assault on the civilian population is in clear contravention of international law.

"This view is widely acknoweldged internationally and was evident in the course of today’s debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting. To its shame the Irish government abstained.

"The Irish government needs to take a clear stand in support of the civilian population of Gaza and send a clear message to the Israeli government that its actions will not be tolerated. This can best be achieved by expelling the Israeli Ambassador.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a call from the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council for an end to the occupation of Palestine.

Speaking after the Foreign Affairs Council called for an immediate end to the violence in Gaza; Ms Anderson said; 

"While it was selective in its condemnation of violence and legitimises the spurious claim by Israel that human shields are being used in Gaza, the Council has been forthright in its calls for the indiscriminate targeting of civilians to end. 

"The council has said it is particularly appalled by the human cost of the Israeli military onslaught and also expressed deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. 

"It also called for the immediate an unconditional opening of border crossings to allow the flow of humanitarian aid and people. 

"Crucially, the council's conclusions examined the root of the problems and said the only way to end the conflict is through agreement that would end the occupation which began in 1967. 

"This is particularly welcome as it directly addresses the crux of the problems faced by the Palestinian people. 

"It also reaffirmed its commitment to to a two state solution and called for a halt on the expansion of illegal israeli settlements. 

"The conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council go much further than the frankly weak resolution passed by the European Parliament which failed to recognise the significance of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories." 

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Sinn Féin Councillor Cathleen Carney Boud has today welcomed the ongoing investigation by Dublin City Council and Inland Fisheries Ireland into the source of water contamination in the Tolka River that has depleted the river’s fish stock.

Cllr Carney Boud said:

“The contamination of the Tolka River is not only a big blow to the local community and eco system but also to the fishing clubs who use their own resources to increase its now diminished fish stock.

“I was in contact with Inland Fisheries Ireland today and am aware that they are following lines of enquiry. I hope that the findings of this investigation will be published soon and that whoever is responsible will be held fully to account. I will follow up with this in the coming weeks.

“The environmental costs of this incident are untold and there are huge risks to any other wildlife that may rely on the river.

“Tolka River is also a great amenity and wonderful tourist attraction and it is disgraceful to see such blatant disrespect for the area.

“I would truly hope that an incident such as this one will not happen again.”

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Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed remarks made by British Labour MP John McDonnell speaking during a Back Bench recess debate in the House of Commons yesterday, when he raised concern over attempts by the British government 'to impose their welfare reform legislation' on the people of the north of Ireland.

Michelle Gildernew said:

“I welcome the contribution by John McDonnell yesterday, where he highlights the effects of the Tory coalition welfare cuts policies, already implemented in Britain, as a "disaster" with serious "adverse consequences" for ordinary people.

”During my regular contacts with MPs from Britain I hear at first hand the dire consequences of measures contained in the Welfare Reform Bill. John McDonnell is right to point out the growing concerns from Sinn Féin and others about the effect of having these cuts imposed on us. As John argues, the hardship people are already experiencing "especially the most vulnerable -- children and people with disabilities" is unacceptable.

“His comments also reflect the widespread dismay at the British government's response to those of us who object to and resent the threat to impose fines on the Assembly executive if we do not acquiesce in the Tory demand that we rubber stamp their agenda of cuts.

“These threats of graduated fines are clearly seen as a blatant act of political blackmail by the British treasury.

“John McDonnell is absolutely right to state: "The proposals threaten not just to impose a significantly harsh welfare regime on the people of Northern Ireland, but to undermine the whole concept of devolved government."

“Given the evidence of the negative affect of these cuts in Britain, this is not a theoretical debate. The effects of these Tory welfare cuts will cause serious hardship to the people we represent from all communities and we will continue to oppose them.


“We will also continue to work with like-minded people and groups in Britain and in the South to fight the austerity agenda of the Conservative led governments in both London and Dublin.  We will be resolute in defending the living standards of ordinary people across Ireland.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and social development committee chair Alex Maskey has said Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has serious questions to answer. 

Speaking after the publication of a report which found that Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland misled the DSD committee, the South Belfast MLA said; 

"Nelson McCausland claimed in a letter to MLAs on the committee that he has met representatives of the Glass and Glazing Federation when in fact he was actually met with representatives of an individual company. 

"A senior civil servant was then told to change the record of that meeting in the letter to the committee to back up the minister's claim. 

"All parties with the exception of the DUP took the view, based on the extensive evidence in the report, that the minister deliberately misled the committee. 

"Not only was the committee misled but there was a concerted effort to change the record of the meeting. 

"I would encourage people to read this report. 

"This is a comprehensive report and its findings are very serious. 

"The conclusions of this report will be debated in the Assembly and serious questions will have to be answered by the minister and his colleagues.

"Nelson McCausland needs to explain why he deliberately misled the committee and his party colleagues must also out and say where they stand. 

"The thousands of people on housing waiting lists across the North look to the minister to get on with the job he has been elected to do. 

"Nelson McCausland would be better working to build houses rather than attempting to frustrate the democratic process." 

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe, has called on Israel to immediately end its brutal bombardment and invasion of Gaza which has now killed at least 650 Palestinians.

As the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrives in the region, Crowe also backed the calls of the Palestinian President who has stated that the lifting of the illegal blockade of Gaza must be part of any peace process.

Deputy Crowe said:

“I am completely outraged and appalled at Israel's continued invasion and indiscriminate bombing of Gaza. Israel’s attacks have now killed 650 Palestinians, with estimates that at least 80% were innocent civilians, including almost 150 children.

“This is Israel's 3rd major offensive on Gaza in 6 years, which it besieges by land, air and sea.

“Israel continues to refuse to accept international law as the basis for resolving its conflict with the Palestinians and it is seemingly killing civilians and committing war crimes with impunity.

“Israel should immediately end hostilities and enter meaningful and inclusive dialogue to create a lasting peace process which respects the sovereignty and independence of Palestine along the pre-1967 borders.

“I also agree with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, that the lifting of the illegal blockade on Gaza, which amounts to collective punishment, must be part of any peace process, in order to tackle the huge humanitarian crisis.

“In face of Israel’s continued human rights abuses and rejection of international law it is time for the Irish Government to take a proactive and principled stand in its bilateral and multilateral relations with Israel.

“Sinn Féin continues to call for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, for an arms embargo against Israel, and for the EU to suspend Israel from the Euro-Med preferential trade agreement.”

Asgard Howth 2014

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