Sinn Féin - On Your Side

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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin have said that illegal dumping is continuing unabated in several parts of Crossmore, Armagh, and must stop immediately. Speaking after visiting Drumcarn, in Derrynoose, Newry/Armagh MLA Conor Murphy has said that over the last two weeks, Sinn Féin has highlighted the dumping of dead calves along the Clea Road, near Darkley and Keady. This has shocked local residents and also exposed a number of other dumping hotspots along the Armagh/Monaghan border.

When local councillor, Pat O'Rawe MLA and local representative, Willie Monaghan highlighted the issue, a number of local residents contacted our office in Armagh to alert us to other sites including Drumcarn bog in Derrynoose, an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).

Local Sinn Féin representative, Willie Monaghan, who initially visited the dumping sites, said:

"When I was brought to Drumcarn Bog by a concerned Derrynoose resident, I was shown what could only be described as an illegal dumping hotspot. There were at least eight dead calves, remains of decomposed sheep, drums of diesel residue, bags upon bags of household waste and all sorts of household appliances including fridges, washing machines and televisions. It is saddening to see a beautiful area abused in such a way. Speaking to local residents, it is very clear that they are angry at the amount of illegal dumping going on in border areas and especially in this Area of Special Scientific Interest, which was declared in 1998, that contains many rare species of plant and invertebrate, including the very rare Irish Damselfly."

Sinn Féin councillor for the area, MLA for Newry/Armagh Pat O'Rawe, who is Chairperson of the Armagh City and District Council Environment, Health and Recreation Committee, contacted the Environmental Officer immediately added, "I have been speaking to the Environmental Health Officer and welcome the approach the council has made in dealing with this awful situation. I am aware that the area was assessed straight away and that moves have been made to begin clearing up. I am also in contact with Environmental Heritage Service and they will assess the area to see how much damage has been done to this important habitat and how further damage can be prevented. We cannot make this any clearer; this illegal dumping may have already had a disastrous effect on the rare plants and vertebrates in Drumcarn.

Concluding, Conor Murphy said, "From we first highlighted the dumping of calves, the entire issue of illegal dumping in the area has been exposed and must be stopped. I pay tribute to the residents in Clea and Derrynoose who contacted us and I ask all residents, and farmers in particular, to continue to be vigilant against illegal dumps. Sinn Féin will work closely with residents, Armagh City and District Council and the Environmental Heritage Service to try and prevent continuance of this problem. We will also, through our Sinn Féin colleague in Co. Monaghan, Jackie Crowe, be in contact with Monaghan County Council as this issue requires a regional approach." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Derry Cityside Councillor Peter Anderson has castigated the Electoral Office for what he described as its abject failure to assist Cityside voters in ensuring that they are able exercise their right to vote.

Councillor Anderson's comments came after the Electoral Office announced that its only Mobile Centre in Derry aimed at assisting voters to obtain Electoral Identity Cards would be held in Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre. Speaking after the announcement, Cllr Anderson said:

"In the Cityside electoral area almost 2,000 people who should be entitled to vote are not on the register. This situation has come about because of the changes in Electoral Law, all aimed at making it harder for people to obtain their vote. There are many people in the Cityside area who whilst on the register do not have the necessary forms of electoral identity to ensure that they can vote; yet the Electoral Office is making no provision to assist them.

"The Electoral Office needs to re-examine its decisions and roll out Mobile Centres across all the electoral areas in the City.

"Does the Electoral Office really believe that voters in the Cityside would feel safe travelling to Lisnagelvin given the number of attacks on Nationalists that have taken place in that area?

"If the Electoral Office is genuine about wanting to assist voters in obtaining Electoral Identity Cards then it should be in consultation with locally elected representatives and groups in all areas of the City seeking to find out how it can help ensure that everyone can claim their vote.

"If anyone out there needs assistance with registering or getting the necessary Electoral Identity Card then they could contact any Sinn Féin centre and assistance would be provided." ENDS

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Sinn Fein's Environmental Spokesperson Cllr Willie Clarke MLA, welcoming the news that an international panel of experts in the field of trail development have agreed that the North of Ireland has the potential to be one of the best sites for Mountain Trial Bikes in the world has said that the potential of off-road biking in the Mournes should be fully realised.

Speaking after receiving a letter from the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) who for the past two years have been working on the strategic development of off-road cycling in the six counties, Cllr Clarke said:

"I welcome the efforts of CAAN who have prioritised the development of an 'Off-Road Cycling Centre of Excellence' which would include trail development in Castlewellan, Tollymore and Rostrevor Forest Parks in Co. Down and Carlingford and Ravensdale forests in Co. Louth. This would make the Mournes the first mountain bike destination in Ireland. The potential benefits of the project include an investment in the rural area of approximately £1.5 million. It would also bring increased visitor numbers to the area and help encourage the development of sustainable tourism in the Mournes.

"Off-Road Cycling would ensure improved opportunities for local people to take part in a safe and enjoyable activity and encourage local riders to train for competition. It would also mean a reduction in illegal mountain bike trail development, which is often unsafe and can cause damage to the environment and conflict with other forest users.

"What is worrying therefore, is that CAAN, who have submitted several major funding applications relating to this project have yet to have one accepted and unless positive movement is made in the near future, funding of approximately £550,000 could be lost to the area.

"The project has been developed in partnership with Forest Service, Coillte, the Tourist Board and Environment and Heritage Service. It is clear that there is substantial support from other organisations and individuals throughout the Mournes and groups such as Mourne Heritage Trust, Mourne Activity Breaks, Tollymore Mountain Centre, private outdoor activity providers and local cyclists are supportive of the scheme. Sinn Fein supports the proposals put forward by the CAAN and we will be working with the Forest Service to secure greater support for this initiative that could have significant and tangible benefits for the Mournes." ENDS

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Dublin South East Sinn Féin Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan has called for the Government to "fund a community based information and awareness programme in the battle against cancer."

Cllr. Doolan was speaking ahead of tonight‚s information meeting being held in St Andrew's Resource Centre, Pearse Street.

Speaking today in City Hall, Cllr. Doolan said:

"Tonight's event is part of an ongoing programme of meetings being organised by the City of Dublin Development Board in partnership with the Irish Cancer Society and others including St James Hospital and Dublin City Council. The aim of the meetings is to raise awareness in communities on the need for prevention and early detection of cancer. In meeting tonight I hope we can have a discussion on steps that people can take to lessen the chances of developing cancer, we hope to also inform people about the signs and symptoms we should all be watching out for. The key is prevention and detecting cancer as early as possible.‚"

In urging the public to attend Cllr. Doolan claimed, "that there are several ways we can tackle cancer and ignorance is not one of them".

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan called on the, "the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, to fund a programme of community awareness so the battle against cancer is brought into our communities where it counts most." ENDS.

For further comment call Cllr. Doolan 086-8534666

A community information evening on prevention & early detection of cancer. Tuesday, February 22nd, St Andrew‚s Resource centre, Pearse Street.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP and Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP will accompany the Sinn Féin Meath by-election candidate Councillor Joe Reilly when he hands in his nomination papers tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd) at 10:30AM at Trim Town Council Hall.

Mr Adams, Mr McGuinness and Mr Reilly will be available to speak to the media and will do a walk about afterwards. ENDS

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Sinn Féin will this week use their Dáil Private Members Time to call on the Government to address the concerns of parents, teachers and school principals about the proposed system of special needs education due to be implemented in schools throughout the State later this year. The motion calls for more resources of children with special needs and for the Government to fulfil its promise to reduce class sizes.

Publishing the motion, Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe said:

"Children with special needs are still not receiving the education which is theirs by right. There is widespread concern that the proposed Œweighted system‚ for allocation of special needs teachers to schools will lead to many schools actually losing resources. Minister for Education and Science

Mary Hanafin is reviewing this and has said she does not want to see any child losing out. She should publish her plans as soon as possibl

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Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that the European Commission is "intent on turning public services into private enterprises".

Ms McDonald made her comments before a debate in the European Parliament on Competition Policy within the European Union. A report is due to be delivered by Jonathan Evans MEP later this evening which supports moves by the European Commission to further privatise public services.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin is opposed to the privatisation of public services. Clearly there are those within the European Union who are attempting to drive through an agenda which would see essential public services like health and education opened up to the highest bidder.

"On the 8th February 2005, the European Commission published a report which suggested that the opening up of the services market could bring significant economic growth to the EU. Alongside the controversial Services Directive, this is another indication of the right-ward shift of the European Commission.

"Sinn Féin believes that the on-going process of the privatisation of public services has not brought any visible gains to the public, rather it has led to price increases, a marked decrease in the service provided and increases in the cost of provision according to consumer associations. In addition, this process contributes to destroying jobs and the creation of private monopolies.

"On this basis, both I and my colleague Bairbre de Brún will be voting against this report and opposing further moves to integrate Competition policy into EU legislation. Sinn Féin will continue to demand that public services are protected against the relentless drive toward privatisation." ENDS

Note to Editor

Mary Lou McDonald is a member of the EU Committee of Employment and Social Affairs

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, Martin McGuinness MP, and Martin Ferris TD in a joint statement issued in Dublin this today said:

"Sinn Féin is totally committed to the peace process and to engaging with the Irish government in these difficult times to find a way forward.

Despite our anger at attempts to criminalise our party and its supporters we have been measured in our comments. We have asked others to do likewise as we are conscious that a protracted war of words among Irish nationalists is deeply damaging to the overall process.

However given the seriousness of Michael McDowell's outburst on the national airwaves on Sunday we have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement in response.

We want to state categorically that we are not members of the IRA or its Army Council. Our involvement in the peace process is as leaders of Sinn Féin and as elected representatives for West Belfast, Mid Ulster and Kerry North respectively. As part of this, in the past we have met with the Army Council to put propositions regarding the peace process.

Sinn Féin's contribution to this process has been substantial and we will continue to play our part.

For some time now Michael McDowell has been unable to distinguish between his role as Justice Minister and President of the Progressive Democrats. He has made countless unsubstantiated allegations against our party and its leadership.

Recently the Irish government accused Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams of withholding information and of conspiring to rob the Northern Bank in December. We challenged the government to stand this accusation up and they failed to do so.

And then at the weekend Michael McDowell made his unfounded and serious allegation that we -Martin McGuinness, Martin Ferris and Gerry Adams - are members of the IRA Army Council.

For Minister McDowell to do this is an abuse of his office.

"If his view is shared by the Gardaí then the only way this issue can be confronted is for us to be charged with IRA membership"ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today said that people will be 'shocked' by reports that 310,000 people die annually from the effects of air pollution in the European Union.

Ms de Brún was responding to an assessment by the European Commission which also revealed that air pollution is reducing normal life expectancy in Europe by almost nine months on average. The report by the European Commission is due to be presented to the 'Clean Air for Europe' steering group in Brussels today.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"I think people will be shocked by this report by the European Commission. It will be of particular concern for us in Ireland where there is such a high rate of respiratory illness.

"It is difficult to comprehend that 310,000 people will die prematurely as a consequence of exposure to air pollutants. That figure is roughly equivalent to three times the population of Derry City. We are dealing with a serious problem which will require a unified and effective response.

"Whilst the report shows that Ireland is not the worst in relation to air pollution, a recent report found that carbon dioxide emissions in the 6 Counties were 1.9% higher than in 2002. A complete change of direction is needed by government and industry if we are to tackle this serious problem.

"The amount of vehicles on our roads is contributing greatly to air pollution. Sinn Féin believes that proper investment in an effective public transport system will go some way to cutting down the need for reliance on private transport.

"The Kyoto protocol goes a small way towards cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, but much more needs to be done. The second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol begins in 2012, and we need to be developing a global plan for a more ambitious approach to climate change and air pollution. The world faces a stark choice, continue along this current path or actively begin to address the serious implications of environmental disaster.

"The European Union must lead the way in the fight for a safe clean environment. Sinn Féin is committed to playing its part in bringing forward and supporting policies which effectively combat climate change". ENDS

Editors Note

Ms de Brún is a member of the EU Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

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f a campaign to force the Irish government to begin the preparations for Irish Unity through the commissioning of a green paper on the subject and the initiation of a series of sensible and practical moves to help bring about the historic task of uniting Ireland in a planned and controlled fashion.

"Our elected representatives are part of an all-Ireland team something that no other party can boast. We are ideally placed to deliver real and meaningful change and today's meeting is an important part of bringing this even closer."ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking in Strabane this afternoon to commemorate Michael Devine, David Devine and Charlie Breslin who were ambushed and executed by the SAS on February 23rd 1985 . Mr Adams said:

"Many of those who are attacking us now are back in the place where they are most comfortable. They don't want an open debate on the national question; they don't want a focus on their management of the social and economic affairs of this island; they don't want the peace process to succeed if that means the loss of political power for them. At all costs they want to stop the growth of Sinn Féin and halt the radical political alternative to the forces of conservatism in Ireland. And in order to achieve this and to distract attention from all other matters they are trying once again to smear republicans with the criminalisation slur.

"Sinn Féin does not underestimate the seriousness of the current situation. People across Ireland are concerned that the peace process appears to be in freefall and that ten years of work and progress is now being cast aside. My friends it is not enough for us to cry foul or to invoke the memory of the hunger strikers.

"No republican worthy of the name can be involved in criminality of any kind. If any are they should be expelled from our ranks. We are not involved in criminality and we will not tolerate such behaviour. Our opponents know that. But some of them can barely disguise their glee at the recent turn of events. There has been trial by media.

"A Sinn Féin member is arrested and released without charge and the entire Sinn Féin party is condemned as criminal. Money from the Northern Bank robbery is found in the RUC Athletic Association Club in Belfast and this is reported as being an effort to embarrass British forces. All of this stated as fact. And let there be no doubt that this campaign of vilification is going to continue for some time.

"But let there also be no doubt that Sinn Féin will weather this storm. Do they think we are not serious about our republicanism? Do they think we are not determined to pursue our legitimate goals? Do they believe our commitment to the peace process is a pretence?

"Of course if we were criminals as they allege their strategy would work. But we are not. And we have come too far, and too many people depend upon us. Let me tell you that Sinn Féin will continue, in the hundredth year of our party, to build political support, and a dynamic radical political organisation across this island.

The importance of the upcoming elections here cannot be overstressed. Others are already electioneering. The contest will be Sinn Féin versus the rest. So our effort has to be, in every single contest, to ensure the largest Sinn Féin vote possible.

"20 years ago when Michael and David and Charlie were killed Sinn Féin was in the very early process of fighting elections and beginning the difficult work of building a political party. Today we are the largest pro Agreement party in the north and third largest party on this island with elected representatives throughout Ireland. None of this was supposed to happen. The government thought that Sinn Féin would remain a minor player on the political scene but they were wrong.

"Their mistake was in underestimating nationalist and republican people and they are doing that again.

"And what of the IRA?

"Let me restate here at the memorial to these IRA volunteers that the objective of all republicans must be to create the conditions in which the IRA ceases to be. That is a huge challenge for republicans. Others at this time think they can beat the IRA by the avalanche of propaganda, which is being spewed out.

"Sinn Féin's contribution to the peace process has been dismissed and abused. Including our efforts to take all the guns and all the armed groups out of Irish politics. That remains the Sinn Féin leadership's objective. Many of those who are attacking us at this time have made no useful contribution to the peace process, but some have. If, as I believe, they intend to continue with the politics of smear, they have a duty to spell out how this will contribute to rebuilding the process in the time ahead."ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking to RTE this afternoon described unfolding events as very serious. He called on people to be measured in their comments and not to make any knee-jerk judgements. Mr. Adams said:

"I only became aware of these developments very late last night. This is a serious situation and. I'm flying back to Ireland to get a handle on all of this and I've asked for a report on my return. I would ask people to be measured and not to make any knee-jerk judgements about all of this.

"Sinn Féin is opposed to crime. There are members of other parties who have been imprisoned because of their involvement in corruption and other activities. But unlike Michael McDowell I don't tar every member of those parties. I don't try to tar their entire electorate with the awful smear and slur of criminality.

"I don't want to be tainted with criminality. I don't want anybody near me who is involved in criminality. I will face up to all of these issues if and when they emerge. I have to reflect on all of this and I'm not making any judgments and I'm certainly not going to be taking advice from Michael McDowell. Michael McDowell was saying the same things in the 1990s as he is saying now. Michael McDowell attacked John Hume for even daring to talk to me. So, this is all regurgitated invective and insults.

"I'm the Sinn Féin President and Sinn Féin has been subject to public accusations. So, of course I have to take that seriously. Not only do I have to uphold the integrity of the party and my own integrity, I have to be very open in looking at what may or may not be happening at this time.

"Malign elements in the British system are sitting back and watching all of this with glee. Ian Paisley, who scuppered the efforts to bring about a closure on every issue in the peace process, is sitting back silently watching as Irish nationalism beats up on itself and others as some parties seek to destroy Sinn Féin.

"I'm not in politics for the good of my health. I'm not in politics for ministerial office. I‚m not in politics for the big salary. I know that there are a lot of people in politics, in all the parties, who are motivated to give public service. I think that I still have a role to play in terms of the peace process and in terms of the equality agenda and in terms of the changes that I believe are required in the island of Ireland and I want to see a united Ireland.

"Sinn Féin will weather this storm. I will not walk away from any challenge, which presents itself in the time ahead. If Sinn Féin has issues to deal with, we will deal with those issues. We didn‚t play the leadership role we played in this process, or make the progress that has been made, by walking away or being engaged in pretend games or putting our heads in the sand. We live in the real world. We know how much people depend on us to make this peace process work and we will not fail the people whatever that means in the time ahead."ENDS

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Sinn Féin education spokesman, Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland has expressed deep concern at the lack of progress on the proposed all Ireland Autism centre at Middletown, Co. Armagh, after he received information from the Department of Education about the work carried out to date at the centre.

Mr Hyland said:

"Unfortunately it seems that the project is no further on since the 'grand opening' of the centre on September 14 when distinguished guests were told by NIO minister, Barry Gardiner and southern education minister Noel Dempsey, that the various financial and legalistic problems had been resolved.

"Six months on and there has been no further progress.

"I have now received information that indicates that the centre will not be opened until the autumn of 2006 at the earliest. This brings into question the commitment of the education departments north and south to help improve the quality of life for children with autism. Both departments continue to immerse themselves in bureaucratic red tape. They are stalling in moving forward with creating a centre which will benefit a vulnerable section of Irish society north and south." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that the latest figures on housing allocation indicate that Catholics are 'under represented' in the allocation of public housing.

Mr McCann said:

"Recent Housing Executive figures for 2002-03, show that in Belfast the percentage of Catholics on the Housing Executive waiting list for a house was 44%, yet only 28% of those actually allocated a house were Catholic - an 'under-allocation' gap of 16% in relation to allocations.

"While Protestants represented 43% of those on the waiting list, they represented 64% of those actually allocated a house - an 'over-allocation' gap of 21%. These figures point to a very significant 'waiting list' differential that is every bit as unacceptable as the 'unemployment differential'.

"For the same period (2002-2003) across the north as a whole this differential of Catholic under representation in housing allocation is repeated. The percentage of Protestants on the waiting list was 47%, with 54% actually being allocated a house - an over-representation of 7%. For Catholics, the figures were 40% on the waiting list, and 35% actually allocated a house - an under-representation of 5%.

"This demonstrates the existence of a significant 'allocation differential' between the two communities regarding allocation of public sector housing.

"The problems is particularly bad in Belfast with a 16% under-allocation for Catholics, and 20% over-allocation for Protestants. While the NIHE may argue that there are number of reasons for this differential, such as low-turnover of housing in Catholic areas, the end result points to significant and disproportionate housing needs within the Catholic community. The key question therefore is what strategy has the NIHE/DSD in place to redress this differential." ENDS

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Commenting on reports in the media this evening surrounding arrests in Cork and Dublin a Sinn Féin spokesperson said:

"I am aware of reports in the media this evening regarding arrests in Cork and Dublin and speculation that it is linked to the Northern Bank Robbery. Sinn Féin‚s position on this robbery is clear.

"Over the last four weeks we have seen people rush to judgement time and time again. We would urge people to exercise caution on this occasion and allow the truth to come out.

"Sinn Féin has no further information about these arrests and we will wait to see how events unfold before we comment further." ENDS

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Sinn Féin representative for the Castle Ward in West Belfast, Fra Hamilton has this evening expressed his sadness at the death of a four-year-old boy in Belfast's Shankill area.

The young boy died when the mini-motorbike he was riding collided with a car this morning.

Speaking this afternoon Mr Hamilton said:

"I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the family of the young boy who died on the Shankill Road today.

"This death is a dreadful reminder of the dangers, which exist on our streets, particularly for young children. Every effort must be made to ensure that proper play and recreation facilities are provided for our children. Those in authority must learn the lessons of this tragedy." ENDS

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Speaking during the debate on the Criminal Justice Bill (2004) Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh described the Bill as 'draconian' and said some of the Minister's proposals "may violate constitutional rights and European and international law."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "At the core of this Bill is the significant extension of Garda powers. It extends their power of detention. It extends their power to compel bodily samples without consent. It extends their power over the issuing of search warrants - just one step away from introducing a warrantless search.

"The Bill is another in a series of draconian legislation the PDs have introduced since assuming office. And as with all his policies, he (the Minister) does not feel any compulsion to provide evidence that the extension of such powers are either necessary or effective.

"In fact some of the Minister's proposals may violate constitutional rights and European and international law. As a consequence the Human Rights Commission has not only raised its concerns as usual, the Commission has clearly rejected the Bill. But the Minister has ignored them yet again. The fact that this Minister can ignore the Human Rights Commission, actively preach social inequality, and still continue to hold his portfolio says everything about the Taoiseach you really need to know.

"Sinn Féin supports measures that are tough on crime, but we have too many concerns about the Minister's proposals to support this particular Bill.

"We don't need more Garda powers. What we need is more effective and strategic deployment of Garda resources and Garda reform to ensure that Gardaí are made accountable to the communities they serve. In other words, we need better use of present Garda powers. We need more resources devoted to crime prevention, targeted to deprived areas as recommended by the National Crime Council and as demanded by Sinn Féin. I urge the Minister to get off his high horse for once and instead of peddling false claims of his compliance with civil liberties requirements, to respond positively to the grave concerns outlined by the Human Rights Commission and Irish Council for Civil Liberties by introducing a practice of human rights-proofing this and all other Government legislation as I and others have called for." ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Party Chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA hosted a briefing with members of the Diplomatic Corps in Dublin today. The briefing, which took place in Leinster House with representatives of 20 embassies, focused on the peace process and the ongoing difficulties that are effecting it.

Speaking afterwards Mr. Mitchel McLaughlin said, "Today's briefing is part of an ongoing engagement by Sinn Féin with the International Community. While addressing the current difficulties in the peace process we also examined the political context which brought us to this stage. We outlined the significance of the historic deal that was on offer from Republicans in December and the fact that Unionists walked away from it and that this precipitated the current crisis.

"Despite the very real difficulties that do exist at present Sinn Féin is determined to get the process back on track. We stressed this during the meeting and reaffirmed out absolute commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "In a wide ranging discussion on the upcoming elections in the Six Counties and in the 26 Counties in two years time, we expressed our confidence of increasing our support. It is clear that many of the attacks on our party, especially from the Irish Government and the SDLP at the moment, have to be viewed in that context. People across Ireland know that Sinn Féin has played a leading role in the peace process and that we will continue to do so, that is one of the many reasons that they are supporting us in growing numbers." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that the Sellafield nuclear facility is a by-word for negligence, incompetence and has a track record in poor safety.

Ms McDonald made her comments after an annual audit (2004) of nuclear material at the Sellafield plant revealed that 30 kilograms of plutonium remain unaccounted for.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"This most recent revelation that 30 kilos of plutonium is unaccounted for at Sellafield will come as no great surprise to the general public. It again highlights incompetence and negligence at the nuclear facility and once more calls safety procedures at Sellafield into question.

"It is not acceptable for the British Department of Trade and Industry to claim that this 'discrepancy' is not unusual. The British Government need to provide full disclosure on the whereabouts of the plutonium and wider safety concerns at the plant.

"In September 2004, the European Commission initiated legal proceedings against the British Government for its failure to comply with EU inspection rules on nuclear waste. When EU inspectors went to survey a pond at the plant they were unable to gain access to it due to high levels of radiation and poor visibility.

"Sellafield is a discredited plant and it remains the most dangerous and unstable nuclear facility in Western Europe. Sinn Féin will continue to fight for its immediate closure." ENDS

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Sinn Féin by-election candidate Councillor Joe Reilly has urged all those who are not currently on the electoral register to do so in the coming days.

Councillor Reilly said:

"It is still possible for people, not currently on the electoral register, to have their names added. This is particularly important for all those who are now of voting age or those who have recently moved to Meath or who have changed address within Meath."

The closing date for the Supplementary Register is Tuesday 22nd February and to get on it you must fill out a special form "RFA2" which can be obtained from Council Offices, Libraries or Post Offices. This must be filled out, signed at a Garda station and returned to Meath County Council, County Hall, Railway Street, Navan, Co. Meath.

"Sinn Féin would encourage all those who are entitled to vote to register and to use their vote in the forthcoming elections to bring about change." ENDS

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