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Sinn Féin launches campaign to win Carlow/Kilkenny By-Election

Sinn Féin Councillor Kathleen Funchion has been selected as the party's candidate to contest the Carlow/Kilkenny by-election caused by the resignation of Fine Gael's Phil Hogan.

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has launched a scathing attack on the record of the Labour Party and of its leader Joan Burton on the weekend of the Labour conference in Killarney.

Mr Adams is today addressing a large Sinn Féin gathering including TDs, Seanadoir, Councillors and party members from across the Ireland South region, in Cahir, County Tipperary.

The Sinn Féin leader has warned against the “next election campaign descending into auction politics with establishment parties seeking to outbid each other in terms of unsustainable and irresponsible tax cuts and election promises they will not keep”.

Gerry Adams said:

"We have come to expect conservative, right-wing policies from the Fine Gael party. That is their raison d'etre.

"But what of the Labour Party? The failure of Labour in Government has been stark.

"Labour continually tell us they are there to put the brakes on Fine Gael; that things would be far worse without them. But the evidence points to the opposite.

"Let’s not forget that Labour Party leader Joan Burton helped negotiate the Programme for Government.

"That programme saw Labour buy into the austerity policies of Fine Gael and deliberately break its election promises.

"Those policies have forced almost half a million of our people to flee abroad in search of work.

"As a senior Cabinet member, Joan Burton has overseen the implementation of Water Charges, the Property Tax, cuts to Child Benefit, removal of medical cards, cuts to health and welfare, and a succession of stealth taxes.

"In fact, Joan Burton is one of the chief architects of the Government’s austerity agenda.

"There is now a deep sense of betrayal among former Labour voters at the actions of that party in Government.

 "If noises emanating from Fine Gael are anything to go by, there is a real danger of the next General election campaign descending into auction politics with various parties seeking to outbid each other in terms of tax cuts.

"This will do nothing to address the serious needs of our society.

"It will not do anything to re-build our battered public services, tackle the scandal of hospital overcrowding, or build affordable childcare provision.

"There is now a need for communities, social movements, trade unions and progressive political parties to begin a real debate about the direction our country should take and the type of society we want to build.

"Such an inclusive discussion could usefully shape, in a constructive way, the nature and tenor of the next election campaign.

"I have suggested a new Citizens’ Charter, encapsulating the fundamental principles that could take us towards a citizen-centred, rights-based society.

"I believe that a Citizens’ Charter could form the basis for a new departure in Irish politics."

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Sinn Féin Councillor Daithi Doolan has condemned tonight's shooting in Ballyfermot.

Speaking tonight, Cllr. Doolan said:

"Tonight's shooting in Ballyfermot is wrong and should be roundly condemned. A father was shot while out walking with his child. This is totally unacceptable. It also put the life of an innocent child at risk. I can only imagine the trauma that this will cause this child.

"I hope all resources are made available to the Gardai and that those responsible are brought to justice. The government must ensure our communities have adequate policing resources.

"I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward."

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Sinn Féin’s sitting TD in Cork North Central Deputy Jonathan O’Brien will contest the next general election in the constituency.

Deputy O’Brien, who topped the poll in 2011, was selected as the party’s candidate at a convention at the Maldron Hotel earlier tonight.

Speaking after the convention, he said;

“I am very proud and honoured to be selected by the members of Sinn Féin on the northside to represent the party at the next general election.

“I am fully aware of the nature of the challenge that lies ahead. It is harder to retain a Dáil seat than to win one initially.

“Since my election in 2011, I have worked every day for the ordinary people of Cork North Central.

“As part of the Sinn Fein team in the Dáil, I have sought to put the principles of equality and social justice at the centre of the national political debate.

“The people of this constituency have been hit hard by the austerity agenda and regressive policies pursued by this government.

“The Labour Party is holding its national conference in Killarney this weekend.

“No doubt we will hear a deluge of deluded self-praise along with the predictable attacks on Sinn Féin.

“This is a party who, on entering government, promised to protect working people from the worst of the conservative, right-wing policies of Fine Gael.

“Instead, the Labour Party and Joan Burton, as Minister for Social Protection, have been responsible for the cruelest of the cuts.

“They abandoned the ordinary people of this country. They sold out every principle they ever claimed to possess.

“In contrast, Sinn Féin has stood shoulder to shoulder with those who have suffered the most as a result of the economic crisis and austerity.

“We are the real opposition to this government. We are the party campaigning and fighting for a fair recovery.

“Emigration, Unemployment, Eviction and poverty have been the bitter fruits of this coalition’s time in office.

“Sinn Féin wants to see a better and brighter future for our people.

“This government’s time is up. Fine Gael and the Labour Party have lost their mandate. There has been no democratic revolution. There has only been litany of broken promises.

“Our communities need republican politics, the politics of equality and fairness, to come to the fore.

“I look forward to bringing the progressive alternative offered by Sinn Féin to the people of Cork North Central at the next general election.”

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The attempt to kill Francis McCabe Jnr outside Crossmaglen on Wednesday represents a new, violent escalation in the activities of crime gangs in the south Armagh and north Louth region.

Some of those involved are also central to an unrepresentative militarist faction opposed to the Peace Process and Sinn Féin’s political strategy. This latest escalation follows death threats against Frank McCabe Snr and Conor Murphy MP in recent weeks.

Other victims of these gangs’ activities include shooting Michael Bellew in Cullyhanna a year ago and killing Garda Adrian Donohoe in Lordship just over two years ago.

Despite PSNI and An Garda Síochána investigations, no one has ever been prosecuted for these crimes. The policing response to this latest incident will be very closely scrutinised both within south Armagh and wider afield.

That reality carries huge implications for policing and community relations in south Armagh. This area is a republican heartland and bedrock of support for Sinn Féin’s peace strategy.

The party’s electoral strength in the area and widespread respect for the local republican leadership was a central element in Sinn Féin’s decision to support policing in 2007. Since then, party activists and representatives have worked tirelessly to build important relationships with the PSNI and also An Garda to make policing accountable, and to establish partnerships between both and the local community.

During this period, there has been a sinister and systematic upswing in criminality across the area. Diesel laundering, cigarette smuggling, cattle rustling, vehicle theft, financial extortion of local businesses and more have all become a blight on the local community. The gangs involved operate across the Border; they co-operate with each other and are inter-generational.

Most importantly, the police know their identities.

They are career criminals and yet both the PSNI and An Garda have failed to act against them, despite the active support of local people.

There is a widespread belief that the key figures among these gangs are acting with impunity.

An obvious corollary is that another agenda is in play.

It is no coincidence that a new propaganda offensive driven by some of the island’s most notorious ‘Crime’ and ‘Security’ journalists has begun to demonise south Armagh in particular by disgracefully attributing the upsurge in criminality to republicans.

The reality is that, as the gangs operating have extended and expanded their range of criminal activities, the most prominent republican families associated with the Sinn Féin leadership – from Ballybinaby, through Dromintee, to Cullyhanna, Crossmaglen, and Camlough – have all been physically attacked, threatened and targeted.

A concerted effort is underway to try and deflect republican activists in south Armagh and north Louth from promoting Sinn Féin’s political strategy. However, whatever agendas or agencies are at work, they will fail. The local republican leadership and support base is just as determined to succeed in this phase of political struggle as well.

It is for that reason these violent, destabilising, criminal actions are escalating.

Those responsible are a cancer within the local community and a threat to the political and Peace Processes. But the progress within our society in terms of democratic change and support for policing cannot be taken for granted.

The PSNI and An Garda have a responsibility to prove they are up to the task and root these criminal elements out once and for all.

The proud people of south Armagh and north Louth must stand united to demand these criminals and militarists get off their backs.

The surrounding Border community should also mobilise in solidarity with their south Armagh neighbours against this criminal scourge.

On Sunday 1 March, a commemoration will remember Óglaigh Brendan Burns and Brendan Moley in Cullyhanna. Republicans from across Ireland should attend and stand in solidarity and support with the McCabe family and all the republican families under threat from these criminals.

A resounding message needs to be sent to them to get off the backs of our people and to get off the back of the Peace Process. 

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Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín in responding to Leo Varadkar on the latest political attack on Sinn Féin has stated ‘as we move closer to the general election we see a direct correlation between the collapse in support of the government parties and the amplified hyperbole of their statements’.

 Deputy Tóibín said:

“The next election is not just a choice between the opposing policy platforms of Sinn Féin and Fine Gael but also the political culture of the two parties. Fine Gael is a lose franchise of personal ambition where TDs regularly shaft and undermine each other for personal advancement. In contrast Sinn Féin is a cohesive movement focused on a shared ideological goal.”

“It’s a bit rich for Leo Varadkar to lecture Sinn Féin with regards the politics of fear. I lost the party whip 20 months ago for voting against party policy but within 6 months I was reinstated to my original position. In sharp contrast a large number of Fine Gael TDs and Senators were booted out of their party for good for voting for Fine Gael party policy. What message does this send?”

“When political expediency and personal ambition are king, political principals are the enemy. This state has been ravaged by golden circles, cliques and vested interests. The corruption of Fianna Fáil and the polarisation of Fine Gael are clear for people to see. This is why at last the political landscape in this state is radically changing.”

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has strongly criticised Minister for Health Leo Varadkar for comments made today where he stated that Sinn Féin in government would “rule by fear”.

Senator Cullinane said:

“Sinn Féin will not take lectures from a party that has driven thousands of young people from our shores in search of work or which have led to hundreds of our citizens languishing on hospital trollies, waiting desperately for basic medical care.”

“To say that Sinn Fein would ‘rule by fear’ shows a deep level of disrespect to the huge number of people who have indicated that they would vote for Sinn Fein in the next general election, especially from a party that has fiercely quelled any dissent when it comes to the harsh economic sanctions they have forced onto the country like the water charges.”

“Sinn Féin TDs are elected with a mandate from its voters and it is to this that we are loyal. If Fine Gael considers such a mandate as ‘party chains’, then it is clear what they think of the mandate they received in the last election. The Minister’s comments are typical of the disingenuous comments that we have heard from the Fine Gael/ Labour government in the past number of weeks.”

“This government is no longer fit to rule and is increasingly attacking parties and individuals with silly nonsense like this instead of defending their own record in what are clearly the final days of their term.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP, Lynn Boylan, has spoken out against the overuse of antibiotics in human and animal health, due to the serious consequences of this practice. The Dublin MEP spoke after the European Commission published its progress report on antimicrobial resistance yesterday.

Ms. Boylan said: 

“Resistance to antibiotics is already causing 25,000 deaths in Europe alone and if action is not taken immediately we will be sleep-walking into a scenario where routine infections could be deadly and life-saving therapies such as chemotherapy will become impossible to use. 

“There must be a holistic approach to tackling this issue including addressing overuse of antibiotics in human health and animal health.

“Treating healthy animals with antibiotics should be stopped and it is disappointing that the Commission in either of its texts on veterinary medicine and medicated feed has not proposed that this harmful practice should end.

“Antibiotics for both humans and animals should only be used to treat illness and not preventatively. If we don't address this issue we are facing an apocalyptic vision of the future of medicine.”

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Dublin South Central Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has received information which suggests that the Electoral Register for Dublin City Council's is seriously flawed and inaccurate with only 4 of the 9 electoral areas in the city area having been enumerated last year. The information also pointed to huge problems around apartment blocks with only an accuracy of around 20%.

Each year enumerators are to visit each home in the city to check the accuracy of the Electoral Register and if nobody is home they leave a registration form. 

 Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Due to a lack of staff less than half of city was enumerated last year with areas such as Crumlin, Beaumont, Walkinstown, Clontarf, Raheny, Ballyfermot, Chapelizod, Dublin 8, Cabra and Artane untouched. This left untold citizens potentially denied the right to vote.”

Ó Snodaigh called for the immediate establishment of the Electoral Commission and for Minister of the Environment Alan Kelly to give the Commission the responsibility to ensure the annual updating of the Electoral Register is carried out properly. He also said that given new technology there should no problem undertaking a rolling register.

“The information I have raises serious questions regarding the accuracy of the electoral register and the potential disenfranchisement of so many citizens, especially given the forthcoming referenda.” 

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Speaking during a visit to the Limerick Community Grocery on Mulgrave Street in the City, Sinn Féin MEP for the South Constituency Liadh Ní Riada praised the ingenuity and perseverance of all those involved in the cooperative project and committed to supporting it and similar enterprises at home and in Europe. 

The Sinn Féin MEP also congratulated the project on winning a national ‘Get Involved’ award.

Ní Riada said:

“Cooperative social enterprises have a natural and age-old foundation in Ireland. In the country families and neighbours would gather together to pool their labour and their resources for the common good in the meitheal, especially at harvest time or when it was time to make hay. In the cities the community spirit lived on for generations, and despite recent changes, the community and interdependent way of life is still there in living memory. 

“Its great to see the produce of the country, fruit, vegetables, preserves and other groceries being distributed in the city, in a way that emphasises community, cooperation and interdependence. 

“Co-operative social enterprises are already well established in Europe, with many employing many thousands of owner-employers across a multitude of sectors. At its heart the model is about providing goods and services, on a commercial bases, but under the control and for the benefit of the producers or workers that create the product or provide the service. 

“The Limerick Community Grocery is going from strength to strength, and illustrates a growing trend across Ireland for communities to take the initiative and set up their own enterprises that meet their needs on their terms. From food production, to energy supply and broadband connectivity, the cooperative model is growing fast.

“I have committed to working with the sector in order to help them as best I can. Ní neart go chur le chéile.”

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