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Putting Ireland First - Éire Chun Cinn

Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2014 - 6pm Friday Feb. 7th and 10am Saturday Feb. 8th - Opera House, Wexford Town



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Speaking the evening Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has called the government row back on having the Comptroller and Auditor General investigate the costs and overspend at the new national children’s hospital “curious” and “worrying”.

Teach O’Reilly said:

“Sinn Féin has been very explicit in our call for a full and public investigation into the overspend at the national children’s hospital.

“We were hopeful that such an investigation by the C&AG would be forthcoming when Government Chief Whip, Seán Kyne TD, stated as much on the RTÉ The Week in Politics programme today.

“However, in a curious and worrying development the Government have rowed back from this commitment.

“This is, quite frankly, ridiculous; Deputy Kyne did not just think this up on the spot and such an investigation must have been debated at the highest levels of Government.

“It is very disturbing that the Government appear to not want an independent investigation into the overspend so we can find out how such colossal losses were incurred and if any corruption has taken place.

“I am reiterating Sinn Féin’s call for a full and public investigation into the goings on with the construction of the national children’s hospital immediately.

“There are people in Government and people working on projects for the State who hold the disgraceful belief that wasting public money is a victimless crime. It most certainly is not and there should be the most full and through investigation to uncover the reasons for such a waste of public finances and if any corruption has taken place.”

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The Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has welcomed reports which indicate that the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General will review the spiralling costs of the National Children’s Hospital.

McDonald called on the government to confirm that this probe will go ahead and to indicate a timeframe for it.

Deputy McDonald said:

“My colleague Pearse Doherty this week called for a full and public investigation into the overspend on the National Children’s Hospital.

“I am pleased therefore at reports which suggest that the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General is to conduct a review in this regard. This needs to be confirmed by government.

“The projected overspend represents a catastrophic failure of this government and those overseeing the project. The explanations given to the health committee were bordering on farcical and take no cognisance of the impact that this will have on the overall health budget.

“We need this hospital and we need it to be built as soon as possible. We also need accountability and oversight in the spending of public money. Transparency is key and questions must be asked in respect of the Minister and his relationship with the board – when did he find out about the overspend, why was it not anticipated and why has it been allowed to continue? 

“The Minister has adopted his trademark hands off approach and any investigation must focus on the role of the Ministers for Health and Finance.

“The proposed review must be short and sharply focused - we need to know how this catastrophic overspend was allowed by government to go unchecked.”

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Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has criticised RTÉ’s flagship weekend talkshow ‘The Late Late Show’ for yet another excluding viewers in the Six Counties yet again on the famous programme.

Speaking in Belfast this weekend Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:

“The Late Late Show and RTÉ both came under widespread and fully warranted criticism when they displayed a, so-called, map of Ireland that had amputated the Six Counties. 

“One would have thought they’d have learnt their lesson however Friday night’s episode saw viewers in the North again snubbed when they were excluded from taking part in the show’s weekly phone-in competition. 

“The Late Late Show is an Irish institution, it is the longest running talk show in TV history, people in Derry and Belfast have grown up watching the show in the same way as people in Galway, Kerry and Dublin have. It is an established part of our collective Irish lives. 

“RTÉ’s corporate charter compels them to reflect and engage audiences across the entirety of Ireland but yet another exclusion of a large swathe of Ireland and indeed an RTÉ audience defies that.

“I will be contacting RTÉ and ‘The Late Late Show’ to convey the frustration and disappointment of those who have been in touch with me and to encourage them to stop insulting this substantial section of their audience.”

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has condemned a bomb attack at the courthouse in Derry.

The Foyle MP said:

“This incident has shocked the local community.

“In particular, there are many elderly residents who live in the area who have been alarmed by this incident.

“Thankfully no one appears to have been injured in this incident.

“Derry is a city moving forward and no one wants this type of incident. It is not representative of the city.

“I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it to the police.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today addressed a crowd marking the centenary of the Soloheadbeg ambush in Tipperary. 

Below is the full text of Deputy McDonald's speech.

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

A chairde,

Cuireann sé an-áthas orm mar Uachtarán Shinn Féin a bheith libh inniú agus muid ag comóradh na heachtraí stairiúla a tharla anseo ag Sulchóid Bheag i Contae Thiobrad Árainn céad bliain ó shin Dé Luain seo chugainn.

Cuimhnímíd orthu siúd uile a sheas an fód ar son na saoirse sa tréimhse sin. Táimíd bródúil astu, fir agus mná a bhí sa bhearna bhaoil agus an tír seo á ionsaí ag Rialtas na Breataine. Ar son na Poblachta daonlathach a bhí siad ag troid agus is cuí an rud go bhfuil cuimhne fós orthu.

I stand here as a proud Irish Republican with Tipperary roots and as President of Sinn Féin to remember the historic event that took place here in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary, one hundred years ago.

The action here at Soloheadbeg is regarded as the first significant attack by the Irish Republican Army on British crown forces in that period. 

These were ordinary men living in extraordinary times. The nine Volunteers involved had been lying in wait here for five days, expecting an RIC detachment to arrive with a consignment of explosives.

Waiting in the cold and wet for the time to act. Each evening they returned to the home of Dan Breen. At huge risk, Dan’s mother Hanora - a widowed mother - opened up her home to her rebel son and comrades. At four each morning they set out to take up their positions.

Each day before they left, Hanora Breen got up and made a breakfast. I love the way Dan Breen tells it in his book ‘My Fight for Irish Freedom’. On the fifth morning Dan’s mother said:

“If you don’t do something today, you can get your own breakfast tomorrow.” Soloheadbeg occurred on the very day that First Dáil Éireann met to hold its inaugural meeting in Dublin’s Mansion House.

The majority of the people of this island had spoken at the ballot box. They voted for Sinn Féin and they voted for equality, for liberty and to break the link with Britain. It was no surprise that there were young men, and women too, prepared to make that democratic vote effective by armed force if necessary.

The events of that day cannot be properly understood outside the context of the time and the background.

Armed actions had begun before Soloheadbeg and before the 1916 Rising. It was not Irish Republicans who brought the gun into Irish politics in that period. This country had been garrisoned for centuries by British crown forces. 

The British Conservative and Unionist Party had helped to fund, to train, to lead and to arm the Ulster Volunteer Force. And they were duly deployed, with the co-operation of senior British Army officers, to threaten war if Home Rule was implemented.

The message was clear in 1914 when the UVF landed thousands of arms at Larne, which was facilitated by crown forces while the Irish Volunteers landing of a tiny fraction of that number of arms at Howth was followed by the killing of three Dublin civilians by the British Army.

Republicans were not the advocates of a blood sacrifice, that fell to John Redmond when he induced tens of thousands of Irishmen to their deaths in the trenches of an Imperialist War. With war came the repressive Defence of the Realm Act, rendering peaceful political opposition to British rule and to British Army recruiting as seditious and empowering the British authorities to suppress and censor and imprison at will.

This was the background to the 1916 Rising and - of course - in its aftermath repression greatly increased with executions, mass imprisonment and deportation. The years 1917 and 1918 saw military rule throughout Ireland.

People were jailed for public speaking, for flying the Tricolour, for singing nationalist songs. Meetings, dances and GAA games were suppressed, people were attacked with bayonets and bullets. And the British government greatly escalated the situation when it prepared to enforce Conscription in April 1918. 

This was despite – or indeed in response to - the verdict of the people in by- elections in which elected Republican MPs were elected. The British government refused to listen to the democratic will of the Irish people.

The leaders of Sinn Féin, including many newly elected MPs, remained in prison. The people had entered a new era politically but the old British military regime remained the same. 

It was little wonder then that those like Dan Breen and Seán Treacy concluded, in Breen’s words, that they “had had enough of being pushed around and getting our men imprisoned while we remained inactive”.

They determined to seize arms from the RIC. The actions of the IRA at Soloheadbeg did not start a war with the British and armed actions remained isolated events. Republicans prioritised a peaceful path.

The Dáil had met, it had sent its delegates to the Peace Conference in Paris, it had appealed to public opinion in Britain, in the USA and worldwide. Door after door was slammed shut to Ireland by the British government, including at the Peace Conference, and this culminated in the outright banning of Dáil Éireann in late 1919.

It was after those peaceful roads were closed that the conflict intensified.

Contrary to the so-called revisionists it was the actions of the British government which made armed conflict inevitable. Martin McGuiness once said that, “he did not go to war but war came to him”. The people of County Tipperary and the people of Ireland did not go to war, the British government brought war to them.

War is not something to be glorified. It is not the first, second or third option for anyone. It is the last option of last resort. When that arises there are always those willing to step into the “bhearna bhaoil”.

To act selflessly and to risk life and liberty. We remember with pride those who refused to lie down, those who were ready to resist and those who stood up to the British Empire. It is right and fitting to honour those who risked all at Soloheadbeg.

To remember Seán Treacy, Dan Breen, Seamus Robinson, Seán Hogan, Tim Crowe, Patrick O’Dwyer, Michael Ryan, Patrick McCormack and Jack O’Meara. Across Ireland, men and women such as these fought for freedom. They had the support of the people without whom they could not have operated.

It was a people’s struggle for freedom. War is not something to be celebrated as it comes at a price and that is why we must remember the loss of the life of RIC members Patrick MacDonnell and James O’Connell.

As Republicans we know the cost of conflict and that is why we now have a peaceful and democratic pathway to Irish Unity and to an Irish Republic.

No other generation should face the choices that Seán Tracey and Dan Breen faced and no other generation should pay the cost that the MacDonnell and O’Connell families paid. There are some in powerful positions today who would like others to forget these events.

We watch on as they contort themselves to remove the name of Sinn Féin and the IRA from history. 

They wish us to forget that the degree of independence won for the 26 Counties was only won because the British government was forced to the negotiating table in 1921.

For the most part of the past one hundred years, this state has been governed by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Geal. They now rule together in government and opposition.

The bravery of the volunteers at Soloheadbeg is in stark contrast to decades of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael government. One hundred years on and these parties have failed to deliver the hard fought for republic.

They want to the people to believe that their way is the only way. They fear that people look back and see another way is possible.

They fear a risen people. They fear a woken generation, who see through their revisionism, hypocrisy and denial of rights. Who look on in disbelief at a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, parties that believe that homelessness is acceptable, poverty is inevitable and partition permanent.

They tell us, one hundred years after Soloheadbeg that now is not the time to talk of Irish Unity. Let me say loud and clear. Now is the time and this is the place. We will have unity, we will have equality and we will have our sovereignty.

We will have a Republic to honour all our patriots. It will be a Republic of equal citizens and a home to all. A Republic that is not sullied by homelessness and health care waiting lists. A Republic where workers are respected and rewarded for a fair day’s work. 

It will take patience and generosity. It will take courage and determination. It will take all of us to work together for the greater good. We will prevail, we must prevail. A new and united Ireland is the most fitting tribute to those who came before us.

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Speaking at a major health Rally in Waterford City today Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said enhanced cardiac care is a big priority for people in the South East. Deputy Cullinane was joined at the Rally by Sinn Féin councillors from across the region. 

Speaking from the Rally Teachta Cullinane said:

“Again today thousands of people from across the South East came out to demand a second permanent Cath Lab at University Hospital Waterford and 24/7 emergency cardiac care. 

“Progress has been made in recent times. Through the collective efforts of campaign groups, local and regional politicians and people power the Government moved and have provided the funding for a second Cath Lab.

“This must be put in place as quickly as possible. Both Labs need to be capable of performing diagnostic and intervention work. 

“However the priority is to deliver 24/7 emergency PPCI. The South East has a population of 500,000 people. University Hospital Waterford needs to provide all modalities of cardiac care on a 24/7 basis. The people will continue to campaign until this is achieved

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan has reiterated the party’s support for a public inquiry into care at Muckamore Abbey Hospital. 

Speaking in response to comments from the Chair of the Bamford Review into the north's mental health services, Professor Roy McClelland, Mr Sheehan said, "Professor McClelland's comments add further weight to the calls for a public inquiry into the Muckamore Abbey crisis.

"A public inquiry is needed if we are going to get to the true cause of what happened in Muckamore.

"We have consistently been raising a number of concerns with regard to Muckamore such as staffing levels and support, management and governance, and complaints procedures.

"While the initial SAI report commissioned by the Trust makes reference to these issues it by no means explains how and why the care of vulnerable adults was allowed to deteriorate in Muckamore.

"Without a clear understanding of what happened and why it happened we cannot be confident it will not happen again.

"Unfortunately we know from cases such as Dunmurry Manor Care Home that these problems are not unique to Muckamore.

"This points to more systemic issues impacting care beyond that of Muckamore which needs to be addressed.

"I have requested a meeting with the Belfast Trust to raise ongoing concerns with current staffing and management at Muckamore to ensure those vulnerable adults currently resident in Muckamore receive the care they need and are entitled to."

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Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has said that passing a referendum on the extension of Presidential Voting Rights will ensure citizens in the north aren’t left behind by the Irish government. 

Speaking in Belfast today, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:

“The upcoming referendum on extending votes in presidential elections will be a positive opportunity to affirm the government’s commitment to never again to leave citizens in the north behind. 

“It can also provide Ireland and our global diaspora with a tangible and positive link to each other.

“As we prepare to mark the anniversary of An Chéad Dáil, the upcoming poll announced by the government can afford Ireland the opportunity of having yet another truly national election, ensuring that all of our people have an equal say in what is an important office and expression of Irish life. 

“In 2019 it is crucially important that Irish political, community, civic and cultural organisations here and overseas are engaged and prepared for this momentous vote. 

“There is an onus now on the government to ensure they facilitate the required gathering to ensure this crucial and timely referenda will be won in the most collaborative and positive way possible.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD and former west Belfast MP Gerry Adams has praised the “fearless and tireless campaigning for human rights of Emma Groves and Clara Reilly”. 

Gerry Adams TD was speaking at an event this lunchtime to rename the corner of the old Andersonstown Barracks site ‘Coirnéal Groves Reilly – Groves Reilly Corner’. For more than 30 years the United Campaign against Plastic Bullets – which they founded in 1984 - has held a white line picket here each August against the use of that lethal weapon.

Describing the two west Belfast women as ‘Sisters in Struggle’ Teachta Adams said:

“This is a unique and entirely appropriate celebration of the work of two remarkable and exceptional women – Clara Reilly and Emma Groves - sisters in struggle.

“Through the worst years of conflict Clara and Emma stood strong against unimaginable state violence and repression. Two west Belfast women – mothers and grandmothers - who gave hope and leadership in dangerous times and at great personal risk.

“Two women who separately and together rose to the extraordinary challenge of defending the rights of citizens against the violence of the Unionist and British states.

“Together they made a formidable and inseparable team. Clara was Emma’s eyes on the world.

“Together their dignity and integrity, compassion and humanity was and remains inspirational.

“In all the years that I knew and respected Emma and have appreciated and known Clara, they were never bowed and never broken by all the British system could throw at them. They never once turned their back on anyone who needed help. 

“They lived their lives dedicated to truth and justice and human rights.”

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