Threats will not deter Sinn Féin from representing the people of South Down, the party's MP Chris Hazzard has said.
Chris Hazzard commented:
“Today the party made a complaint to police about threats to kill a local representative.
“These threats were made in a Sinn Féin office in the constituency.
“They will certainly not deter our staff from providing a first-class service and continuing to stand up for the rights and entitlements of all the people of South Down.”
Sinn Féin TD for Limerick City Maurice Quinlivan today said that over 10,000 people have now waited on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick so far this year and this shameful record high represents a new low in our health service.
Speaking today, the Limerick City TD said;
“The severe overcrowding crisis in University Hospital Limerick continues unabated with 56 people waiting on trolleys in UHL this morning.
“This is an extremely high number of people on trolleys in one hospital in any given day, but what is even more shocking is that this number now means 10,028 people have waited on trolleys at UHL so far this year.
“This is a disgraceful situation and this record high represents a new low in our health service.
“I am constantly raising the issues facing University Hospital Limerick in the Dáil, but this government is not listening.
“Our local hospital is in a state of constant crisis; the full capacity protocol, a supposed emergency measure, is being used every single day, despite its function to be for emergencies only.
“At the beginning of 2018, Senator Paul Gavan and I wrote to Minister Harris to seek an urgent meeting to discuss the crisis situation in UHL and bring forward solutions to help. We are yet to hear from the Minister regarding this meeting.
“We have already surpassed the total number of people that were on trollies last year by 1,159 with 6 more weeks to go until the end of the year this should no longer be tolerated.
“The people of Limerick City deserve quality healthcare like every other citizen across the state, yet the trolley crisis at UHL is being completely ignored by Minister Simon Harris, and as a result has escalated to a completely unacceptable level."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has welcomed news that letters have begun to be issued to those affected by the 2012 pension changes.
Teachta Brady said:
“Minister Doherty confirmed that 11,000 letters have gone out to some of those affected by the 2012 pension changes.
“This is the first batch of letters to go out with a total of 76,000 pensioners set to receive letters including 9,000 who no longer reside in Ireland.
“This is just the first step in a lengthy process undertaken by the Department that will see the recalculation of pension entitlements to rectify the impact that the changes to pension bands and rates taken in 2012 had on some of our older citizens’ pension payment.
“Clearly, the majority of the letters are yet to go out so I would urge people who are expecting a letter from the Department to sit tight for another few weeks until all of the letters have been issued.
"After that point, if a person feels that they should have received a letter and did not, then they should contact the Department.
“It is important that the Department proceed as quickly and efficiently as possible to ensure that the timeframe for payment of the first quarter of next year is met. Those affected have been waiting since 2012.”
Sinn Féin in North Belfast have selected John Finucane to contest the upcoming local government election which is set to take place in May 2019.
The Belfast solicitor was selected for the Castle area of Belfast City Council alongside sitting Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell at a convention in Belfast Castle tonight.
Shauneen Baker will also join sitting Councillors Ryan Murphy, JJ Magee and Mary Clarke as candidates for the Oldpark DEA.
Speaking after the selection convention, John Finucane said:
“I am honoured to have been selected for Ard Chomhairle ratification to contest the upcoming Council election for Sinn Féin in the Castle area of north Belfast, an area that I love and have lived in all of my life.
“We currently have one representative in the Castle area and it’s our determination to maximise our potential by winning the second seat in May.
“We have worked hard on the ground alongside community leaders and we are proud to be part of a team that strives to increase investment, create more jobs and make this part of Belfast an even better place to live.
Sinn Féin will continue to stand strongly against Brexit, the devastating consequences it threatens to bring, while ensuring that Irish citizens’ rights are protected.
“All of my personal and professional life I have fought for the rights of others, and stood to improve the lives of everyone.
“If elected, I look forward to the opportunity to continue this fight to deliver for all of the people of the Castle area, especially for those who continue to have rights denied.”
Speaking tonight Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said;
“It has been reported widely this evening that the text of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed between British government and European Union negotiators.
"Sinn Féin has consistently called for an agreement that protects Irish Interests, our economy, the Good Friday Agreement and the rights of our citizens.
"Last December, a joint report by UK and EU negotiators was agreed, in which it was stated there would be no hard border in Ireland. The Taoiseach assured us that this was a 'cast iron' guarantee.
"The withdrawal agreement must give legal effect to that 'cast iron' guarantee.
"While we await the publication of this document, it is a matter of concern that some are presenting the backstop agreement as temporary.
"Brexit is for the long term and what is required is a durable, permanent and legally robust agreement that safeguards Irish interests and ensures there is no hard border on the island of Ireland.”
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has expressed concern that Post-mortems on children who have died in the north will be carried out in Liverpool due to a lack of specialist staff here.
The party’s Health spokesperson was commenting after it emerged that the last remaining consultant will leave his post in early 2019.
Pat Sheehan said:
“While there has been ongoing recruitment issues facing the Paediatric Pathology services, today’s development is deeply concerning.
“The challenges concerning recruiting for specialist services in this case, paediatric pathology, can have a huge impact on patients and their families.
“We need clarification as to what options the Department of Health have explored and why recruitment or the provision of alternative services has not yet been successful.
“At the centre of perinatal and paediatric pathology services are grieving families who in the near future could be facing a trip to England to get certainty on the cause of death of their loved one. We need to ensure that any service has the families placed at the centre.
“The Health and Social Care board has expressed its efforts to recruit a replacement consultant paediatric pathologist but have not clarified what efforts have been made to provide paediatric pathology services in the interim, including exploring all Ireland or cross-border solutions.
“I will be writing to Department of Health to seek a commitment that solutions will be explored as a matter of urgency.”
The Foyle MP was commenting after meeting with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in London today.
Elisha McCallion said:
“Sinn Féin has long stood in solidarity with the Cuban Government and the Cuban people.
“The icons of the Cuban revolution continue to inspire people around the world who struggle for equality and justice.
“The continued unjust economic blockade of Cuba by the US administration is of grave concern and we hope that relations between Cuba and the US continue to improve in the future.
“It’s important that we continue to improve and deepen Ireland’s economic and cultural relationship with Cuba through our close links to Cuban Ambassador to Ireland.
“I used today’s meeting with the Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel to reiterate our call for the blockade on Cuba to be fully lifted.”
The Ambulance Service must ensure maximum public engagement on its current consultation on proposed changes to it's clinical response model, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan has said.
Commenting after meeting with the Chair of the Ambulance Service Board and the Ambulance Service's Director of Operations, the West Belfast MLA said: "The Ambulance Service is an important part of health and social care and in many instances is a vital link between services.
"In considering the future model of ambulance services it is particularly important that the public are encouraged and supported to engage with the consultation process.
"At today's meeting I raised with the Ambulance Service concerns we have in regards to the consultation process, particularly in regards to public meetings.
"The ambulance Service has opted to use the Local Commissioning Group (LCG) public meetings as an opportunity for the public to engage with and listen to Ambulance Service explain it proposals but until recently the details of those meetings were not easily accessible to the public.
"I welcome the Ambulance Service response to our earlier concerns by providing details of each LCG meeting on its website and via social media.
“They should promote further opportunities for groups and individuals to seek public meetings with the Ambulance service to explain its proposals.
"The consultation closes on the 20th December and I would encourage all those with an interest or concern in the Ambulance Service's proposals for its critical response model to attend one of the remaining public meetings of the LCGs or request a public meeting with the Ambulance Service on its proposals, in their area."
Sinn Féin Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile said the resilience shown by the Ballymurphy families will lead them towards truth and justice.
The East Belfast Seanadóir was speaking after hosting a cross-party Seanad delegation at Laganside Court this morning.
Niall Ó Donnghaile said:
“A cross-party delegation of Seanadóirí attended Laganside Court this morning to observe proceedings at the Ballymurphy inquest.
“They also gathered to show support and solidarity with the families and with their campaign for truth and justice for their loved ones.
“This is a significant event in what is a difficult and trying time for the families, but certainly with the resilience they have shown through the years, they will see their way towards truth and justice.
“It’s important that people across Ireland know the story of what happened at Ballymurphy in August 1971 and understand the narrative of concealments which has existed for over 47 years.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support the Ballymurphy families and as members of Seanad Éireann use whatever methods we can to make sure their story is told.”
Sinn Féin MP Elisha Mc Callion has called on the British government to progress a City Deal for the north west to support the economic development of the region.
The Foyle MP was commenting after meeting British Government Minister Shailesh Vara and officials in London.
Elisha McCallion said:
“It’s important that we continue placing pressure on the British government to secure a City Deal which meets the needs of people in the north west.
“I reiterated to Minister Vara the need for his government to support the economic development required to begin to address decades of under-investment in the north west.
“Two weeks ago the British Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that he was opening formal negotiations in relation to a City Deal - he must keep to this promise and begin these negotiations as soon as possible.
"I will continue to work alongside civic and political partners in the north west to ensure that we can achieve the best possible deal for people here.”
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has encouraged the public to engage with the Ombudsman’s witness appeal into the RUC killing of Colum Marks in Downpatrick in 1991.
The South Down MP said:
"This is welcome news for Colum's family, friends and the wider community here in Downpatrick.
“IRA Volunteer Colum Marks was shot dead by the RUC when he was unarmed and could have been arrested. At the time a decision was taken not to prosecute anyone involved.
"It might be 27 years since Colum was killed but the unanswered questions have left a real sense of injustice and hurt with the Marks family.
"I would appeal to the public to engage with the Ombudsman’s witness appeal to help the family get to the truth of Colum's killing.
"Alternatively, anyone with any information can contact the Ombudsman via the freephone witness appeal line, which is 0800 345 7106.”
"As Merkel is set to leave the stage – so too must her failed policies" - Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called on the EU leaders and institutions to finally abandon the failed austerity policies promoted by Angela Merkel, as MEPs took part in a debate with outgoing German Chancellor in Strasbourg this afternoon, Tuesday. The Sinn Féin MEP took part in a protest against Merkel’s economic policies along with other progressive MEPs before she addressed the plenary.
Carthy, a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said: “The EU is still recovering from a decade of austerity, which was forced on the peripheral economies principally by Germany.
“Angela Merkel, since her election as Chancellor of Germany in 2005, has been the chief architect of these policies, which have caused devastation for millions of people across the EU and especially in countries like Ireland. Europe, and in particular the Eurozone, has lost a decade as a direct result of the policies imposed under Merkel’s leadership.
“The results of the European response to the crisis are damning. Three patterns are obvious: the Eurozone countries have in general fared far worse in terms in terms of recovery than countries outside of the common currency; the recovery within the Eurozone has been sharply asymmetrical, with divergence between strong and weak countries increasing; and there has been a significant rise in inequality across Europe. History will confirm that Merkel’s policies prolonged and worsened the crisis in the EU.
“The political crisis that has developed across the EU in the past five years is not only a reaction to the global financial crisis, but also to the policy choices enacted by EU leaders in response to the crisis, which amounted to socialisation of the bankers’ losses.
“World leaders have feted Merkel as the so-called leader of the free world, counterpoising her to US President Donald Trump. This misses the key dynamic at play between these two types of leaders - namely, that the policies of Merkel and other similar political leaders have directly contributed to the rise of the far right and demagogues such as Trump. Being ‘less bad’ than Trump is not good enough.
“The Spitzenkadidat (lead candidate) selected by Fine Gael’s political group, the European People’s Party (EPP) is none other than Merkel’s close ally and colleague Manfred Weber, from her sister party in Germany. Weber has already indicated he fully supports her approach towards economic policy, and has further demonstrated he is willing to turn a blind eye to racist and misogynist policies enacted by parties such Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, a member of the EPP. The EU does not need a right-wing German at the helm of the commission.
“Instead, we need fundamental reform of the EU - including restoring fiscal powers to member states, enacting effective and binding policies to tackle climate change, putting trade union and collective bargaining rights on a firm statutory basis, ending corporate tax avoidance, and ensuring people's basic needs in terms of housing, healthcare and education are fully met. The ECB’s mandate and accountability structures need major reform, and the EU Treaties must be changed in order to facilitate all of these changes. This is an ambitious programme but it is now crystal clear - more of the same for the EU is not an option.” ENDS
The way in which many rape and sexual crimes are dealt with by the legal system here is 'totally unacceptable', Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said.
The party’s victim’s spokesperson was commenting after a report by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate said processes for dealing with rape and other serious sexual crimes in the north take too long, are too expensive and fail to deliver an acceptable outcome for victims.
Linda Dillon said:
“The findings of this report provide stark reading and are totally unacceptable.
“Reporting a rape or sexual assault is always going to be a traumatic and difficult experience. Victims, who may have waited months, years or decades to report the offences against them, should not be let down by the system.
“It is Sinn Féin’s view that any recommendations emerging from the current review into the handling of rape and sexual crimes and the conduct of trials should be properly implemented and resourced in order to reduce the anxiety for victims and delays in case progression.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said rights associated with the Common Travel Area must be protected from Brexit.
Martina Anderson said:
"We know that the Tory Brexit agenda is the biggest threats to the rights of the people in the north for more than 50 years.
"Brexit threatens the rights associated with the Common Travel Area which we warned about and now that’s being confirmed in a report by human rights organisations from north and south.
"The rights under threat include travel protections, residency and social rights.
"We cannot allow any diminution of our rights as a result of the Brexit strategy being pursued by the Tories and their allies.
"We have been given 'cast iron' guarantees on our rights by the Irish government. Now we need to see action on those guarantees to protect our rights.
"Our rights cannot be sacrificed to a Brexit that people in the north rejected. We need action from the EU and the Irish government to ensure the Tories do not undermine our rights."
Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim Martin Kenny said that his legislative amendment on rural planning will be debated (at second stage) next Tuesday evening.
Deputy Kenny said:
“This is a vital piece of legislation which will remove obstacles for the many people attempting to get planning permission in rural areas.
“This amendment to the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, will permit local authorities to grant a waste water discharge licence to applicants wanting to build one-off rural houses where the percolation test has failed.
“This would move away from the zero discharge rule which has prevented many families from building a house in rural areas, especially in the North West and West of Ireland.
“This is a small measure which will have positive effect, especially in rural areas suffering from depopulation and decline, where given the chance young families want to come and live, send their children to the school that they attended, play football for the local club and revitalise their home parish.
“The debate will happen on Tuesday evening and I expect to get support for this amendment from the minister and all parties in the Dáil. When it passes second stage, the amendment will go to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government where it will be scrutinised and returned to the Dáil.
“The sooner the process is ended, the sooner its beneficial effects will be felt in rural Ireland.”
Sinn Féin TD for Louth Imelda Munster has called for immediate additional resources to tackle the escalating criminal feud in Drogheda, which has caused a series of violent incidents in the town in recent weeks.
Deputy Munster said:
“This feud has been brewing and building up for some time now, and the Gardaí have been aware of that. People have been living in fear as these thugs have no respect for life or law and need to be apprehended.
“When other cities such as Dublin and Limerick had similar feuds, extra resources were made available to Gardaí to deal with the problem.
“Whilst I welcome the news this morning that all Garda leave has been cancelled in the division, this is insufficient and additional resources that are now required to nip this in the bud, before someone is killed.
“I have spoken to people who have been directly affected by this. In fact, on Hallowe’en night in one particular area of the town, not one child went out trick or treating because of the danger and the fear that is there.
“People are living in fear. Mothers are pleading for help. I personally know of three mothers who have had to put their sons on planes, to get them out of the country for their own safety. No mother should have to do that.
“Homes are being attacked with petrol bombs and large sums of monies are being demanded of parents.
“In one case, a family was informed that their house would be attacked on a particular night. Gardaí were made aware of this threat, yet the attack took place, and there were no Gardaí present.
“The five arrests that took place this weekend are to be welcomed, however the main instigators are still not apprehended, and the dogs in the street know who they are.
“A piecemeal approach won’t solve this. We need increased Garda resources. I have previously raised the matter of Drogheda and Dundalk having to share one community policing van, and there are only two Garda cars available in Drogheda.
“Communities shouldn’t have to live in fear. This lawlessness needs to be stamped out, and only extra Garda resources will do that.
“I met with senior Garda management in Drogheda last week, prior to the escalation over the weekend, and they stated clearly that insufficient resources are a clear barrier to their ability to deal effectively with this feud.”