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Sinn Féin launch a 'PEOPLE'S PACT'

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.

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.



An Nuacht is déanaí

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Speaking following last Frisday's publication of the Copenhagan Economics Report commissioned by the Irish Government into the effects of the proposed TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on the Irish Economy, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy said that it is now beyond question that the deal could have devastating consequences for Rural Ireland. 

Carthy said:

“The report commissioned by the Government is flawed but it couldn't but admit the fact that the Irish beef sector is under serious threat as a result of the proposed trade deal between the EU and the US.

“Beef is one of our most important indigenous industries, making up over half of all farms in Ireland and we rely heavily on the European Market where we export over 90% of all beef product.

“Ireland is currently the largest exporter of beef within the EU and the 5th largest exporter of beef in the world.

“According to the report, there are over 77,000 farms across Ireland dependent on the beef sector with a high proportion of these (over 20,000) centred in the western counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

“The report indicates that the opening up of the EU market to US beef producers will result in increased competition for Irish farmers and will lead to a decline in Irish exports.

“This will result in the loss of jobs at all skill levels of the beef sector. This comes on top of a report by the CSO which shows a steep decline in the number of jobs in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing. 

“There can be no doubt about it – a bad TTIP deal could devastate rural Ireland and this Government must make a clear commitment to ensure that the Irish beef sector is protected in these negotiations. “ 

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said health minister Jim Wells is failing those dealing with addiction issues by ruling out cross-border cooperation in the north west. 

The chair of the Assembly's health committee said; 

"Dealing with addiction is one of the most important health issues we face today. 

"Problems associated with substance abuse and addiction do not recognise borders and neither should the strategies put in place to deal with them. 

"In Derry we have a purpose-built detox and addiction treatment facility on our doorstep at Whiteoaks, just over the border in Donegal. 

"However, this facility is not operational because of a lack of cross-border cooperation. 

"I raised this issue with the previous health minister who said he would explore greater cooperation with the two health boards. 

"The current health minister, however, has now ruled out increased cooperation over Whiteoaks. 

"That is unacceptable and is failing all of those who are struggling with addiction. 

"Addiction issues cost the health service £250 million a year and we must be exploring new and innovative ways of tackling it. 

"Health is an area where it has been proven that cross-border cooperation can make a real difference. The minister could now make a real difference to the lives of families dealing with addiction if the political will existed." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has criticised environment minister Mark H Durkan for his handling of budget cuts in his department. 

Speaking after a meeting of the Assembly's health committee, Mr McElduff said; 

"At today's meeting of the environment committee I questioned the minister and his officials over his poor handling of reductions in his department's budget. 

"Firstly, the minister did not appear to take account of the £800,000 raised through the plastic bag levy challenge fund until now. Surely this could have been used earlier to offset some of these reductions. 

"Mark Durkan is now also saying that he will be able to redirect money as a result of the voluntary exit scheme but has failed to make even outline projections for this. 

"All of this shows a lack of creativity and forward planning. 

"The announcement of these budget cuts, which will see many environmental organisations lose all or nearly all of their funding, was very insensitive with letters detailing the cuts going to administrative staff in many cases.  

"Many of these groups, such as the Davagh Forest Mountain Bike Trail in my own constituency of West Tyrone, have warned that they could lose match funding from Europe. 

"I have asked the minister to come back before the committee before the end of April with detailed plans of how the money raised through the plastic bag levy, and any other money identified, will be allocated."

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Sinn Féin MLA and disability spokesperson Michaela Boyle has welcomed the announcement by Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín that signing classes for families of children suffering from deafness will begin on Sunday.

 Ms. Boyle said,

 “It is important that families have the ability to communicate especially parents with their children but sometimes this can be difficult when a child suffers from deafness.

 “These courses beginning at Jordanstown School will allow entire families to learn basic signing and improve the communication in the family home and allow families to achieve level 1 and level 2 grades.

 “Signing is a universally accepted way of communicating with deaf people and is important in the development of a child’s self esteem and education.  

 “This initiative is about allowing children with hearing difficulties to achieve equality in accessing services that others take for granted and therefore the Minister needs to be congratulated for bringing it forward.” 

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Commenting today on the Draft Report to the European Parliament on the prospects for the Dairy Sector and  the review of the implementation of the Dairy Package, for which he has been appointed Shadow Rapporteur, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Constituency Matt Carthy has called for the protection of small dairy farmers as milk quotas end.

Carthy said:

“This week the long standing dairy quota system ends.  While this will obviously present opportuniities for Irish Agriculture, challenges are also already emerging. There are over 15,000 dairy farms in Ireland of varying sizes and capacity and it is becoming apparent that the rapid rate of expansion may have the effect of putting many smaller farmers under severe pressure.

“As Shadow Rapporteur on this European Parliament Report, I have consulted with many farmers and representative organisations in this sector and it is clear that many are concerned that there will be ongoing periods of extreme price volatility which will mean that their livelihoods become increasingly unsustainable.

“For this reason, it is my view that there needs to be an increase in the minimum intervention price and there needs to be a strengthening of contractual relationships between producers and retailers to provide certainty for farmers in this sector.

“I have recommended a number of amendments to this report, which seeks to ensure the viability and sustainability of small family farms. These were presented to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development today.

“I am hopeful that my Committee colleagues will support these measures and together we can take steps to mitigate the impact of dairy expansion on small farmers.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the decision by South Africa to restart trading with the poultry industry here.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “The agri food industry is one of the biggest industries in the North with poultry at its fore front. So it is welcome news that South Africa have announced the resumption of trading with the poultry industry here.

 “The Minister Michelle O’Neill deserves immense credit in working with the South African Government to have poultry from the north accepted again in South Africa.

 “The growth of the agri food industry is down to the high standards by our farmers, processors and the management of the industry by the department.

 “This latest success highlights the importance of maintaining those standards and I am sure that we will see further growth in the agri food industry in the months and years ahead.”

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Tickets for the must see REVOLUTION 1916 Exhibition which opens in the iconic Ambassador Theatre on O'Connell St on 27th February 2016 go on sale this Good Friday 3rd April at 9am from www.ticketmaster.ie.

The exhibition will run for 33 weeks and will feature the nationalist narrative of what led to the 1916 Rising, a day by day account of the Rising and the legacy of 1916.

The exhibition will be situated in the Ambassador Theatre which was formerly part of the Rotunda Complex where Sinn Féin was formed in 1905, where the men of 1916 signed up at a mass volunteer meeting in 1913 and where the garrisons of the GPO and Four Courts were held out overnight after the surrender in 1916. 

On display in the exhibition will be the largest privately held 1916 collection of artefacts from the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation including an original Proclamation, a half Proclamation used in the Court Martials, The GPO door handle, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna and Irish Volunteers original uniforms and weapons from the 1916 Rising.

Original works of art featuring the events of 1916 have been commissioned and begun and an audio visual presentation is being worked on at present to complement the storyboards and 1916 sets where the visitors will get an experience from within the garrisons.

A key feature of the exhibition will see the Proclamation being read by 'Patrick Pearse' every day at midday outside the Theatre on O'Connell St.

“The reading of the Proclamation every day for 33 weeks outside the exhibition in the Ambassador on O'Connell Street by a re enactor dressed as General Patrick Pearse will provide both visitors to and residents of Dublin with an opportunity to witness history in action and has the potential to be an iconic symbol of the Centenary commemorations in 2016," explains Bartle D'Arcy the coordinator of Sinn Féin’s 1916 Centenary Commemorative Programme.

It is hoped that the exhibition will be the first step in highlighting this area of Dublin as the Revolutionary Quarter and Rebel Walking Tours will operate daily from the foyer of the Ambassador to the 1916 Battlefield site including Moore Street.

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has commented on the Safe Ireland report which demonstrates that on every level the Irish legal system is not working for women and children living with domestic violence and abuse.

Speaking today the Dublin MEP said:

This report is the latest in a long line of reports that highlights the inadequacies, both institutional and cultural, in the Irish approach to tackling domestic violence.

Unfortunately domestic violence is still often being treated as a nuisance rather than a crime, which is at odds with that fact that domestic violence services around the country deal with in excess of 8000 women every year.

“The report makes 34 recommendations and underlining at lot of these recommendations is a need for a multi-strand approach to the problem, which draws on the expertise of all agencies battling this problem.”

Ms Boylan also stated:

“While we wait on the recommendations from the consultation forum on the next National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based violence there are a number of things the government could do immediately.

I would like to once again urge the Irish government to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention in order to help victims of domestic violence. 

The Convention sets out minimum standards on prevention, protection, prosecution and the development of integrated policies on domestic violence and countries that ratify the treaty are obligated to protect and support victims of such violence.

These countries must also establish services such as emergency phone lines, refuges and shelters, counselling and legal aid. 

Unfortunately many existing domestic violence services are under funding threats and with the housing crisis many women and children simply have nowhere to flee to. Sinn Féin introduced a progressive bill to deal with the specific issue of housing and domestic violence which, recognised the rights of victims of domestic violence to seek rehousing.

The government should reconsider its position and support this Bill while working to implement all the immediate changes it can to make a dent in this problem.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.

Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin's People's Pact at Belfast Castle today, Mr Adams said;

"Sinn Féin is totally and absolutely opposed to austerity north and south.

"Any parties, which contemplate endorsing or supporting a cabinet of millionaires who are behind budget cuts, cuts to public services and cuts to social protections are ignoring the needs of the people in favour of narrow self interest.

"The people need to have the opportunity to have their say and their voice needs to be heard.

"The parties at Westminster are committed to further austerity.

"Sinn Féin’s progressive politics and commitment to the rights of citizens is the only alternative to that.

"We want to see a society based on equality, inclusion and safeguards for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities and the long term sick.

"We want to get the largest vote possible to oppose those austerity policies. We are committed to defending the core public services of health, education and the welfare system.

"That is Sinn Féin's with the people and the message we are taking to the voters on May 7." 

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