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Sinn Féin activists plan for the future at major meeting in Dublin over weekend

Over 500 Sinn Féin elected representatives and activists from across the 32 counties of Ireland gathered in Dublin last weekend to discuss, debate and strategise the party's way forward.

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Speaking at a Sinn Féin Public Meeting in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh this evening, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said politics on the island of Ireland is in flux and that this presented real opportunities to "transform the political landscape North and South. The time has come for genuine republican politics".

He said Sinn Féin's opposition to austerity, "whether foisted on citizens in the North by a British Tory Government, or in the South by Fine Gael and Labour", has struck a chord.

The Sinn Féin Leader said the same kind of political will seen in the early days of the peace process was required for the current talks process to break the political impasse in the North. He said however that, as yet, there is no evidence of the type of credible negotiations required for a positive outcome.

Gerry Adams said:

"Sinn Féin's vision of a modern republic and an agreed, united Ireland, rooted in equality and social justice is finding ever-greater resonance with citizens.

"While political talks involving all parties in the North and both Governments are underway, there is no evidence yet of the type of credible negotiations required to unlock the impasse in the political process.

"Sinn Féin's priority is to defend and to progress the hugely significant advances that have been made over the past 20 years.

"It is of crucial importance however that the Irish Government adopts the same unambiguous pro-Agreement position and very clearly holds the British Government to account in relation to its obligations.

"Overcoming vexed issues such as flags, parades and dealing with the past requires all parties and both Governments bringing to the table an absolute determination to secure a resolution.

"We need the same kind of political and civic will – the same demand for change – which we saw in the early days of the peace process and which ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin will not be found wanting.

With the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising fast approaching, Mr Adams criticised the Fine Gael/Labour Government's lack of preparation or ideas to mark the ocassion and said they appeared determined to dishonour the legacy of the Rising:

"The reason this Government won’t mark the Rising appropriately is because it is opposed to the political, social and economic intent of the 1916 Proclamation.

"Despite this shameful official neglect, ordinary Irish citizens, North and South, and the Irish Diaspora will celebrate and educate and pay tribute to the brave men and women of 1916. They will be joined by Sinn Féin.

"And Sinn Féin will continue to work to make the Proclamation a reality in an independent, united Ireland with peace and genuine reconciliation between all who live here."

The Sinn Féin Leader said recent "mud slinging" by the party's political opponents is a sign of political desperation:

"It is about trying to blunt the growth of Sinn Féin and our potential for gains at the next General Election. It will not succeed. The people are not stupid.

"Sinn Fein believes in a real republic, a citizen-centred, rights-based society. That is the fundamental ideological difference between Sinn Féin and the deeply unpopular Fine Gael/Labour government. So too, is our deep and unswerving commitment to the achievement of a United Ireland.

"Our message is finding a deep resonance among citizens the length and breadth of this country. More citizens voted for Sinn Féin in 2014 than in the famous election of 1918.

"This evening's engagement is part of the process of building a strong Irish republican party focussed on uniting Ireland and committed to achieving real political, social and economic change."

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Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has questioned the benefits the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bring to the Irish people.

Speaking today from Strasbourg she said:

“According to an independent study, TTIP could only benefit people by at best €2.60, and at worst by €1.50. There simply has not been enough discussion on this free trade treaty and on the impact this deal could have on a small open economy like Ireland. The implementation of this treaty as it stands would be hugely detrimental to Ireland’s negotiating power with US-based multi-nationals.

Sinn Féin, along with European countries including France, Germany and the UK are opposed to the investor-state dispute settlement provision which would enable corporations to sue the Irish Government if legislation has a negative impact on their economic activity. It has even been suggested that this mechanism could significantly hamper the states’ ability to raise the minimum wage without being sued by US firms based here.

The crux of the matter is that TTIP is bad for workers; the EU itself has admitted that TTIP will probably cause unemployment in some sectors, which will adversely affect the under -employed in Europe especially young people.

It’s bad for the environment, the US has looser restrictions on the use of pesticides, and it will dilute our food safety standards. Differences between regulations in Europe and North America are markedly different in Europe a company has to prove a substance is safe before it can be used; in the US any substance can be used until it is proven unsafe. The obvious risks to working conditions and environmental regulations far outweigh the potentially modest monetary gain

I am really looking forward to contributing to this debate and discussing Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy’s document outlining some of the potential consequences of this trade deal for sectors such as employment, agriculture and the environment.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said today that Sinn Féin remains committed to providing support and access to the justice system for all victims who suffered abuse during the conflict.

Speaking today Gerry Adams said:

“Throughout the period of the conflict, victims of abuse were failed by the state, by the RUC and on occasion armed groups including the IRA.  All victims of abuse must have equal access to support and justice.

It is essential that victims of abuse who did not, or were not able to access services and justice at the time of conflict are able to do so now. 

Sinn Féin has proposed a victim-centred approach to this matter, an approach that will provide support to victims and access to the justice system.

A number of weeks ago Martin McGuinness outlined the details of such a proposition on the floor of the Assembly.  He has written twice to An Taoiseach and has yet to receive a substantial reply. 

The Irish government has instead set aside the needs of all victims, opted to brief the media and pursue a selective party political approach to dealing with the issue of abuse. 

They have adopted a Micheal Martin proposal, which is not about delivering justice or support for all survivors of abuse.  

Sinn Féin is committed to a process which will support all victims regardless of whether they were failed by republicans, the RUC, the state or loyalists.

“I will continue to call on people to come forward to the authorities if they have any information regarding any incidence of child abuse. I will ensure that any such information received is passed on to the relevant authorities.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has described Gregory Campbell's behaviour at the DUP conference as appalling and called on the party to reprimand him. 

Mr McGuinness said; 

"I was disappointed at the comments made by Gregory Campbell when he set out to demean the Irish language and all of those who love the language. This included the thousands of school children who attend gaelscoileanna. 

"I was then absolutely appalled to hear him repeat those remarks at the DUP party conference. 

"I was further disappointed that the leadership of the party was not prepared to rebuke or reprimand him. 

"This is not a time for making excuses. It is a time for leadership and taking action to ensure this never happens again. 

"It sends a negative message right to the heart of the talks we are engaged in to find a resolution to the outstanding issues. 

"Under no circumstances can this be passed off as comedy; there was absolutely nothing funny about it. 

"It was disgraceful and shameful that any elected politician can engage in the baiting of a large section of the community. 

"There are people on the DUP benches who are filled with hatred for the Irish language, people who have hatred for all things Irish, people who are Islamaphobic, and the level of homophobia within that party is also of huge concern. 

"At a time when Peter Robinson and myself are working to implement strategies for building an integrated community, it is hugely disappointing to hear this language used."

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Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed the incoming changes regarding the public disclosure of payments made by pharmaceutical companies to doctors.

 Speaking today from Strasbourg, where the European Parliament is sitting this week, Lynn Boylan said:

 “I welcome any steps made by industry, towards demonstrating more transparency in financial dealings. The new initiative, which is European wide, will see drug companies disclose items such as donations, payments for attending medical conferences and for speaking on behalf of drug companies. The sticking point for me is that these new rules only apply to over the counter drugs, it should be an all-encompassing initiative”.

 At the heart of the lobbying debate is the conflict of interest issue.  I have asked the Commission to outline what measures are in place for the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) to ensure that conflicts of interest are minimised. Additionally in a similar vein to the proposals contained the Transparency International report on lobbying in Ireland, on the introduction of two year “cooling off” period is recommended for former Ministers and special advisers, I asked the Commission if it believed that a required ‘cooling off’ period between working at EFSA and working for the industry is a good idea. The European Parliament itself has recommended a 2-year cooling off period.

 “Citizen confidence within the State and the EU institutions is at an all- time low with more needing to be done to enhance transparency. The government’s long awaited and watered down Registration of Lobbying Bill doesn't go anywhere near far enough in ensuring that the principle of transparency is central to all actions between government and private interest groups. Unfortunately the revolving door mentality is alive and well as was seen with the latest incoming and outgoing commissioners. The EU should get real on the impact this approach to governing has on public trust and the Irish Government should take on board the recommendations of the recent Transparency International report and lead by example."

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy is to meet with British treasury Officials in London tomorrow (Tuesday 25th November) to discuss the ongoing issue of the closure of the HMRC office in Newry.

Speaking before travelling to London Mr Murphy said;

"The closure of the HRMC office in Newry with the loss of almost 100 jobs will have a huge impact on the local economy.

"Although HMRC claim it carried out a consultation with staff, no equality impact assessment was conducted.

"The fact is that it will disproportionately affect women.

"I will be seeking answers as to why proper consideration was not taken of this situation. 

"Sinn Féin will continue to engage with HMRC to ensure that all rights and entitlements of the workers are respected."

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin will host an event in Stormont's Long Gallery to raise awareness of the rights of the transgender community. 

Speaking ahead of the 'Transgender Rights are Human Rights' event on December 9, the Foyle MLA said;

"I am pleased to host Focus – The Identity Trust in the Long Gallery for an event to raise awareness about issues affecting the transgender community as part of the Human Rights Festival 2014.

"The transgender community make a valued contribution to cultural diversity in our society. 

"However, the transgender and intersex communities still face discrimination and intolerance on a daily basis. 

"The event, 'Transgender Rights are Human Rights' will look at the challenges and difficulties encountered by the trans community. 

"It will also provide an opportunity to show solidarity with the trans community. 

"Speakers at the event will include Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and legal expert Lord Carlile."

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Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has called for black spot areas to be prioritised for broadband rollout.

Speaking following the publication of a national broadband coverage map, Deputy Colreavy said:

“It is essential that areas that have the poorest level of broadband coverage receive priority in the roll out of high speed broadband throughout the country.

“The publication of the broadband map on where the state must intervene is a positive step.

“Quality, high speed, broadband is essential for many facets of modern life.

“In order to develop a sustainable economy, especially in rural areas, access to high speed broadband is needed.

“I welcome that there will be state intervention in the rollout of broadband to areas where commercial operators will not reach.

“The privatisation of Telecom Éireann in the late 1990s was a major blow to the rollout of broadband for the subsequent decade.

“This government must not make the same mistake and ensure that broadband infrastructure built by the state is kept in public ownership.

“I welcome that the Minister will be taking submissions on the broadband map and would encourage interested parties to look at the map on www.broadband.gov.ie” 

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West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty and Declan McAleer MLA have invited the farming community to a public meeting on the implementation of CAP Pillar 1 Single Farm Payments and CAP Pillar 2 Rural Development Programme.

 The meeting will take place in Creggan Community Centre, Co. Tyrone on Thursday 4th December 2014 at 7.30pm and will be addressed by DARD Minister Michelle O Neill and senior officials from the department.

 Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Doherty said

 “The Single Farm Payment is absolutely vital for farmers across the country and the recent agreement on CAP reform and potential changes to the SFP has provoked a lot of interest among the farming community.

 “Farmers are well aware that the current SFP is to be replaced with a new Basic Payment Scheme and they know of the requirement for 'greening measures' and active farmers but are uncertain about how this will impact upon their farming business and personal circumstances.

 “The meeting will also provide an excellent opportunity to find out more about the Farm Business Improvement Scheme, the Young Farmers Scheme and other opportunities for rural communities.

 Mr McAleer, who also sits on the DARD committee, added

 “Around this time last year, we organised a series of public engagements as part of the consultation process on CAP reform.  Now that most of the key decisions have been made, we feel it is important to go back to the farming community to discuss with them how these reforms might affect them. 

 “This is an opportunity for farmers and the wider rural community to ask questions and hear directly from the Minister and her officials about CAP reform and we extend an open invitation to everyone”.

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