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Sinn Féin budget supports fair and sustainable recovery - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Sinn Fein’s alternative Budget would repair communities, rebuild the economy and renew society. The budget lays out how Sinn Fein would abolish the local property tax and water charges and our programme for investing in disability services, health and education.

Download Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2015 here



“The DUP are vocal about the consequences of not implementing these Tory cuts but remain silent on the impact of these cuts which would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least able to pay.  These cuts would plunge more children into poverty and take money from hard-pressed working families, people on benefits and from people with disabilities." - Daithí McKay



Nuacht

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Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has expressed his condolences to the family of  Edward Gibson who died following a shooting close to Divis Tower on Friday evening.

Fra McCann said:

"I extend my sympathy to the family of Edward Gibson and call on anyone with the slightest piece of information to come forward. 

"Those responsible have nothing to offer our community who wish to move on to a better and peaceful future.  

“This shooting took place in broad daylight in a very busy area around Divis Tower. Those responsible have no consideration for anyone in this community.

“There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting. 

“I would appeal to anyone with any information to bring it to the PSNI.” 

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, during a keynote speech to party activists in Belfast, slammed the actions of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the leader of Fianna Fáil for showing callous disregard for the facts around the Maíria Cahill case and of turning the Dáil chamber into an episode of reality TV.

The allegations of Maíria Cahill have been at the centre of the media and political system North and South, in recent times.

 Nobody doubts that Maíria has been through great distress. I have never doubted that she suffered abuse. And like every citizen she is fully entitled to truth and justice.

Over the course of the past week Maíria Cahill has made serious allegations against myself and named Sinn Féin members.

While I am very mindful of the trauma she has suffered I and the others she has named reject those allegations.

The allegations made by Maíria Cahill have been seized upon in the most cynical, calculated and opportunistic way by our political opponents. 

Their aim has little to do with helping victims of abuse, but everything to do with furthering their own narrow political agendas.

The serious and sensitive issues of abuse should be dealt with in a victim-centred way by the appropriate authorities. Instead they have been politicised in the Dáil, the Assembly chamber and in the media.

I am very conscious that a young woman is at the centre of this controversy.

So, let me be very, very clear. Abuse is wrong. It cannot and must not be tolerated.

Let me be equally clear. Sinn Féin has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of this party.

This accusation is a vile slur on thousands of decent, upstanding republican people right across this island.

Those Sinn Féin members to whom Maíria Cahill spoke, have said that they believed that she had been a victim of abuse, and that she had suffered trauma.

They assure me that they did all that they could to support her.

That is what I did also.

The Taoiseach, the Fianna Fail Leader and some media commentators have also tried to draw comparisons between the actions of Sinn Féin representatives in this case and that of the Catholic Church in dealing with abuse allegations.

A cursory examination of the facts gives the lie to that ridiculous assertion.

The Church hierarchy and the State presided over institutional abuse for decades.

 It was a systemic and deliberate practice. 

In stark contrast Sinn Féin has encouraged victims to speak out.

All the Sinn Féin memebers who spoke to Mairia Cahill acted in good faith to support her.

They advised her to speak to her family, to seek counselling or to approach social services.

Her uncle Joe Cahill at my request asked her to go to the RUC.

Now even Joe is shamefully depicted as a sex abuser by some of the media. This has been deeply hurtful to his wife Annie, their children and grandchildren

Whose agenda is served by this despicable rubbish?

Some sections of the media and in particular the Independent Group, have taken these allegations against Sinn Féin, added to them, and reported them as fact.

They speculate with ill-concealed glee about how much damage this controversy will do to me and Sinn Féin.

While rightfully criticising the idea of 'kangaroo courts', they have set themselves up as judge and jury on this issue.

This is not journalism in the normal sense but a campaign with a clear political agenda.

This society is still emerging from decades of conflict.

That conflict caused widespread hurt and suffering, as did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful democratic societies.

There are many legacy issues arising from the conflict. Sinn Féin accepts our responsibility to help bring about the resolution of these issues. That is not our responsibility alone. The Governments and others must deal with the past also.

Victims include a wider category than those killed or injured.

They include those badly served or mistreated by the forces of the state, or by armed groups including the IRA.

How the various protagonists dealt with the issue of sexual abuse is clearly one of the legacy issues which needs to be resolved as part of the necessary business of dealing with the past.

However there is an onus on us all to meet the needs of victims of abuse and the concerns of the community in the here and now. To do what we can today.

To the maximum extent that this can be dealt with now, it should be dealt with.

I have already set out the circumstances in which the IRA sought to deal with some cases of abuse when asked to do so by families and victims.

I have acknowledged that while IRA volunteers were acting in good faith, the IRA was not equipped to deal with these difficult matters.

But the clock cannot be turned back. Sinn Féin cannot change what happened in the past. But we can acknowledge failure.

That is what I have done.

 Everyone, including us, has a duty to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. That is not the responsibility only of Sinn Fein.

IRA actions failed victims of abuse. As Uacharáin Shinn Féin I have acknowledged that. I am sorry for that. And I apologise for that.

This week in the Dáil, the Taoiseach disgracefully twisted and sought to misrepresent what I have said on this issue.

He and the Fianna Fáil leader have shown a callous disregard for the facts as they turned the Dáil chamber into an episode of reality television.

Neither the Taoiseach nor the Fianna Fáil leader has ever sought to meet with me to address the false allegations that they have levelled against me and others in Sinn Féin.

Instead they have rushed into media with their vindictive claims.

Mr Kenny and Mr Martin have done the very thing they accuse Republicans of. They have set aside the judicial process and the rights of citizens before the law. They have ignored the acquittal of those they have accused.

The Taoiseach has claimed that sexual abusers were ‘moved’ – his words, not mine -  to “Dublin, Donegal, Louth”.

The Taoiseach has repeatedly claimed that he has knowledge of alleged child abusers from the North but living in the South.

He says that others have given him information identifying these alleged child abusers. He has raised alarm and concern on this issue. 

Has the Taoiseach gone to the Gardaí with this information? Has he insisted that those who gave him this information  go to the Gardaí? 

 If not why not?

It is up to the Gardaí or the PSNI to investigate and to prosecute anyone they suspect of child abuse, irrespective of who they are, where they come from or what organisation they may belong to. 

I have no knowledge of the claims that the Taoiseach is making.

 I have already called on anyone who has any information whatsoever about any case of sexual abuse to come forward to the authorities North or South.

They will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.

No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.

I am calling on any former IRA Volunteers, who may have any information about any allegations of sexual abuse to pass this on to the appropriate authorities.

That is, the PSNI, An Garda Siochána, Social Services, the HSE or any of the advocacy groups or helplines which deal with sexual abuse cases.

This could also be done through any of the statutory and voluntary organisations which offer confidential 24 hour helplines.

These agencies are properly equipped to pursue these matters.

Secrecy has surrounded abuse in Ireland.

 It was taboo to discuss, and some victims were very fearful to disclose.

The only way to face this problem is to support victims, and to empower them to speak out.

Republicans are reflective of wider Irish society. Abusers can be found in all walks of life. Any abuser within republicanism, has done grievous wrongs to their victims and sullied our cause.

But they are not in any way representative of the thousands, or tens of thousands of republican activists who served the republican cause in the ranks of the IRA, and Sinn Féin.

They are not representative of the  tens of thousands of republican prisoners who served hard time for the republican cause.

 Or of our Patriot dead.

There are republican families in every parish in Ireland.

Good men and women who have kept in faith in hard times.

There are ten thousand citizens in the ranks of Sinn Féin today representing hundreds of thousands of republican voters the length and breadth of this island.

The politicisation of this issue by An Taoiseach and the Fiánna Fail Leader comes at a time when we present a real alternative to the conservative parties that have failed citizens since Partition.  

When challenged by me in the Dáil, Mr Kenny conceded that there are many decent people in Sinn Féin.

Let me tell you Taoiseach, we don’t need you to tell us that.

We know that.

We also know that we are not part of any conspiracy to protect child abusers or to cover up abuse.

So the difficult issues raised by Mairia Cahill must be addressed.

 But there are processes for doing this. They should be applied and respected.

Let us be clear this is not achievable by exploiting her story in a blatant effort to demonise Sinn Féin."

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Mary Lou McDonald TD and deputy leader of Sinn Féin this evening rejected the recent comments made by Ciara Conway TD. 

Mary Lou McDonald TD said,

“As a woman, as a mother and as an elected representative of the people, I find todays statement by Ciara Conway TD highly offensive. 

“Deputy Conway’s attacks on my character and reputation are beyond contempt.

“I totally reject the slanderous allegations and scurrilous remarks made by Ciara Conway in her statement.  They are totally unfounded and totally untrue.

“I am fully aware of, and totally compliant with, my statutory obligations.  I have always, and will always, act entirely properly with regard to any allegations of sexual abuse.

“I would ask Ciara Coway TD to withdraw her comments immediately.”

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Speaking after the initial meeting of the Economic Development and Enterprise strategic policy committee (SPC) in Dublin City Council Sinn Féin Councillors Noeleen Reilly and Jonathan Dowdall are calling on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation as well as the IDA to prioritise areas in Dublin City where unemployment is above the national average.

Cllr Reilly said:

 “Foreign Direct investment is such an important part of the jobs landscape in the capital city.  Dublin is the nucleus of the country’s economy yet many areas was left behind during the Celtic tiger years and has fallen further back since the economic crisis took hold in 2008.  For example, areas like Ballymun Ballyfermot, Cabra and Coolock and Drimnagh  have seen very little in terms of foreign direct investment and I think it is important that we look at areas where unemployment is above the national average and give them further assistance.  If you look at Ballymun for example it is in a prime location off the M50 and close to Dublin Airport and would make and ideal location for some industry. 

Cllr Dowdall further added

“I represent an area of extremely high unemployment in the North Inner City.  As a local employer it is disappointing to see Dublin City loose out consistently on Foreign Direct Investment. The upcoming developments in the Docklands and the redevelopment of the Fruit markets in Dublin come at a much needed time and represent an opportunity for local people to apply for jobs and to develop their skills. We have many redundant apprentices in Dublin who can benefit greatly from these investments. That being said we also need proper investment put into training programmes for these redundant apprentices.  These training programmes would ensure that apprentices are able to earn qualifications, while contributing to the future growth of the local economy.”

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed the withdrawal of water meter installers from Swilly Road in Cabra, Dublin.

Speaking today at the successful anti-water charges protest in Cabra Deputy McDonald said:

“I welcome the fact that the protest in Cabra today was peaceful and democratic. The local community has made clear it’s very strong opposition to water charges. I am delighted that the community’s democratic opposition to these unfair charges scored a victory today.”

“People simply cannot pay and this government is slowly beginning to realise that. I welcome the fact that Irish Water has pulled back and that there will be no water metres installed on Swilly road today”

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A HIQA report issued today in relation to Áras Chois Fharraige in Connemara highlighted issues raised by Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh in the Seanad. The Sinn Féin Senator, raising the concerns in June in light of information he received from two whistleblowers, had called on the Minister for Health to investigate the matter.  

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

 “I welcome the report and its findings though they are of grave concern to me. I will be seeking a meeting with management as soon as possible to ascertain how they intend to address these issues.

“I commend the whistleblowers who brought these issues to the relevant authorities.

“I’m calling on HIQA to ensure that all recommendations are fully implemented within the timeframes specified and if not, to take appropriate action to ensure best patient care.

“HIQA raised concerns around issues of healthcare, the management of restraint, nutritional issues and care planning interventions for elderly residents in the private nursing home.

“The management of environmental risk, fire safety awareness and medication management requiring immediate action were also identified.

“Staffing levels were highlighted as an issue and the quality of care was suffering as a result.

“I am asking management to redress the positions of the whistleblowers appropriately as a matter of urgency.”

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Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the easing of restrictions on the movement of cattle due to brucellosis.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “I welcome the easing of restrictions on the movement of cattle due to brucellosis as the last recorded case was in 2012.

 “The extension of an extra 30 days from date of testing will allow cattle to be moved 60 days after testing which is good news for the farmer.

 “The extension of the age limit raising it from 12 to 24 months will also benefit the farmers saving them time and money when moving cattle to market.

 “While the last case was in 2012 we cannot be complacent when it comes to the health of our farming stock,

 “So while this is a welcome move towards the eradication of brucellosis I would urge farmers to maintain their procedures in combating these dieases.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has condemned those responsible for causing a security alert in the Ballycolman area of Strabane.

The West Tyrone MLA said; 

"This incident has brought widespread disruption to the Ballycolman area of the town and must be condemned. 

"Children at Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh had to be evacuated as a result of this alert. 

"The Gaelscoil was playing host to an international delegation of children from across Europe who are part of the comenius project at the time and the fear and distress on parents' faces was evident on their faces as they were arriving to lift their children.

"Those behind this incident showed absolutely no regard the people of Ballycolman. 

"These actions are being carried out by a small minority with no support and need to stop  immediately."

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Local Sinn Féin Councillor Noeleen Reilly has expressed disappointment at the news that the New Stormanstown development in Ballymun will now not provide any Social Housing.

She said’ It is really disappointing that the Council are taking the financial contribution as part of part V instead of providing social housing given the current crisis. As a Councillor for the area we were led to believe on numerous occasions that this development would have a certain amount of units allocated to people on the waiting list.  I am now being told that the only Part V purchases that are still being completed are those where agreements were in place prior to 2012 and there are only two such cases one in Dublin 8 and the other in the Docklands’. 

 The income from Part V compliance is ring-fenced for housing purposes including undertaking repairs and improvements to units purchased under the Part V scheme but also to increase supply etc.

She further added, I think the government needs to get real on social housing, while I welcome the additional funding in Budget 2015; it is a drop in the Ocean to what is needed.  There are over 100,000 people on the housing waiting list.  How long are these families expected to wait before they get a home?  We have the opportunity here to provide social housing in Stormanstown and yet we are not taking it and not only that but we are also loosing an opportunity to address in a small social mix in a new development.

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