Sinn Féin - On Your Side

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An Chéad Dáil

Here is the much celebrated video shown at Sinn Féin's An Chéad Dáil event in the Mansion House Round Room on January 12, 2019. Sinn Féin former Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha wrote and presents this historic and inspiring reflection of the events of 100 years ago.


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The Sinn Féin Dáil team are holding a two day meeting in the Sliabh Beagh Community Hotel in Knockatallon, County Monaghan today and tomorrow. The Party's 5 TDs, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Arthur Morgan, Seán Crowe, Martin Ferris and Aengus Ó Snodaigh and the rest of the Leinster House staff are meeting to review the last Dáil term and to prepare for the next.

High on the agenda will also be preparations for the next General Election.

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

"The aim of this meeting is to review the last Dáil term and to plan for the year ahead with specific attention given to the next General Election where we expect to increase our Dáil representation.

"Sinn Féin is the only radical alternative to the current political status quo. We intend to continue to provide real opposition to the government and not just a variation of the same theme expounded by Fine Gael and Labour." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan speaking as the G8 summit gets underway has said that 'It is imperative that the G8 leaders take responsible, effective and sustainable decisions in relations to our environment at the Edinburgh summit'.

Mr McGuigan said:

"The developed world has a huge onus to make and implement policies hat offer long term protection against global warming. Governments across the globe must take CO2 emissions seriously.

"We cannot allow our environment and our future to be dictated by a few large industrialists who are determined to put profit before anything else.

"Existing international treaties must be implemented by all. On this island an all-Ireland approach is needed to develop and sustain best environment practise." ENDS

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Two Sinn Féin MPs, have described the threats to hospitals services West of the Bann as an abdication of responsibility to provide fair and equal access to services for people in Fermanagh and Tyrone and warned that the threat hanging over Tyrone County and the Erne Hospital as 'life threatening'.

In a joint statement Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew and West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty said:

"The recent risk assessment into services at the Tyrone County highlighted the failure of Sperrin Lakeland Trust to maintain and deliver services. This erosion of services that has threatened hospital services throughout Fermanagh and Tyrone should have been stabilised with the commitment to a new acute hospital and enhanced status hospital provision providing access to these counties.

"However, it appears that Shaun Woodward has allowed the agenda of policy drift and service erosion West of the Bann that had been successfully challenged to emerge yet again.

"Both Fermanagh and Tyrone deserve access to the full range of hospital services. The discrimination of the past and policy agenda of the civil service to strip services from West of the Bann and to fail to invest in essential services and infrastructure must not be allowed to prevail in the 21st century.

"We need a clear and unambiguous statement from the department of health on the range and nature of services situated West of the Bann.

"Any u-turn on previous commitments, indeed any failure to address concerns about the loss of essential hospital services in Tyrone and Fermanagh will be life threatening and could result in the unnecessary loss of life. Is this the cost of direct rule?" ENDS

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East Belfast Sinn Féin Representative Deborah Devenny today blamed loyalists for attacking a number of homes in the Short Strand area over the weekend.

Ms Devenny said:

" On Saturday night a loyalist gang was seen by local people coming down the Mountpottinger Road and throwing stones and bottles at a number of nationalist homes in the Short Strand.

" Windows were broken and minor damage was caused to a number of homes. The gang was then seen running away from the scene.

" These attacks obviously came in the wake of the weekend Orange Order and UVF parade past the Short Strand and tensions were obviously running high. I would appeal to nationalists in the area to remain vigilant in the days approaching the twelfth." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this afternoon delivered a speech in the European Parliament on Structural funding. Ms de Brún said that 'Structural Funding is reshaping the economic infrastructure of Ireland as a European Region'.

Ms de Brún was speaking after she delivered her speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. She also commended the report on the European Regional Development Fund by Giovanni Claudio Fava MEP.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"I want to broadly welcome the report by Giovanni Claudio Fava MEP.

"Structural Funding has helped to reshape the economic infrastructure of Ireland as a European Region and we believe that future funding must have an all-Ireland dimension to it. In addition, we are keen to see future investment targeted at the most disadvantaged areas including ruralcommunities along the border between north and south of the island - communities which have suffered as a result of partition and conflict.

"The report's focus on social inclusion is an aspect with which I am particularly pleased with. The commitment to remove obstacles to people with

disabilities and a commitment to non-discrimination and equal opportunities are principles which I think we can all support. Programmes should have a 'bottom up' approach, where local communities have a say in the design and implementation of projects. In this context we welcome amendments to the ERDF proposal that strengthen the contribution to the social economy but I and my party do not favour the use of public privatepartnerships.

"I welcome the inclusion by Mr Fava and by the committee of an amendment from my own group aimed at preventing any unnecessary delay in the establishment and implementation of the operational programme. Such delays have caused real problems for projects in the past.

"On a broader level, the EU faces a considerable challenge in ensuring that both established and newer member states receive consistent levels of ERDF funding on the basis of need and that economically disadvantaged and marginalized areas and communities receive priority investment. I am also of the view that more consideration must be shown to the environmental consequences of EU funded projects." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today said that the decision of the Parades Commission to force three Orange Order parades through areas where they are not welcome is the wrong decision and has created a very difficult and dangerous situation in Belfast.

He said: "Sinn Féin will challenge the decisions on Orange Order marches in North and West Belfast."

Mr Adams said:

Orange marches through nationalist areas are designed to cause offence to nationalist residents. If this was simply about culture then Orange lodges and their followers would choose routes throughareas where they are welcome.

Last year a similar decision by the Parades Commission in relation to the Ardoyne 12th parade resulted directly in widespread public disorder. It was only through the efforts of republicans on theground that serious injuries were prevented. The political damage has resounded to this day.

The Orange Order buoyed by the decision last year have refused to engage in genuine and meaningful dialogue with the community in Ardoyne over the past 12 months. The Parades Commission has rewarded Orange Order intransigence with parades in both Ardoyne and along the Springfield Road.

It is my view that the Parades Commission have based their decision on a false belief that republicans can once again deal with the fall out from their decision on the ground on the day. The notion thatrepublicans can simply deal with bad decisions by the Parades Commission time and again is not tenable.

Sinn Féin wants to see a peaceful summer and we will of course do all we can to achieve this. But when decisions by the Parades Commission are destined to achieve exactly the opposite result then a very difficult situation is created. This is not sensible. It is not acceptable." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Kathy Stanton will raise with British MPs tonight in London the issue of the Parades Commission decision to force an Orange Order parade through three nationalist areas including Ardoyne on the twelfth morning.

Ms Stanton said:

" I will use the opportunity provided tonight by a Sinn Féin reception for MPs and opinion makers in London to raise the issue of the Parades Commission determination regarding the Ardoyne parade and the very serious situation which now exists as a result.

" Sinn Féin have worked long and hard to achieve a peaceful summer however when Parades Commission determinations are destined to achieve the opposite effect then we all find ourselves in a very difficult environment.

" The Orange Order and leading DUP politicians set out the agenda to use the parading issue in Belfast to raise tensions and poison the political atmosphere some weeks ago. Unfortunately the Parades Commission have now fed into this negative agenda with their determinations in Ardoyne and the Springfield Road.

" These determinations are wrong and send out entirely the wrong signal to the Orange Order who insist on marching where they are not wanted and continue to arrogantly refuse to engage with local nationalist communities." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Smithers expressed his disappointment after other parties on Dublin City Council refused to back a Sinn Féin emergency motion that would have amended what he described as a "shameful" inequality in the Council's housing allocation system.

The Ballyfermot councillor said: "There are 7,800 lone applicants on the housing waiting lists who are being discriminated against in the most shameful manner. Under the current system of allocation a lone applicant gets 5 points. If the lone applicant declares a partner, he or she gets an extra 20 points. Lone applicants without partners are thus left behind to slip further and further down the waiting list as partner‚s get an extra 15 points.

"This is in direct violation of the Equal Status Act of 2000 as it is discriminatory to award 20 points for a partner compared to five for the applicant. Following a case taken under the equality legislation the Council indicated as part of the mediation process it intended to change the provision by awarding the applicant the same number of points as his/her partner. Regrettably, we have seen no progress on this matter and I am disappointed that the other parties failed to bring this matter to a positive conclusion last night.

"The refusal of the other parties in the Council to back my motion, and their decision to instead waste time by referring it to Committee, simply allows this ingrained system of inequality to continue, with the almost 8,000 lone applicants destined to lose out."

Cllr Smithers went on to ask lone applicants to urgently contact the Ballyfermot Sinn Féin office at 01-6259320 or by email [email protected] "We need to maximise the pressure on the Council", declared Smithers. "The failure of Fianna Fáil, Labour and Fine Gael to support lone applicants means we need them to join us in taking action against the Council‚s discriminatory practices." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has said that the Parades Commission could have come to no other decision than to re-route this weekends Drumcree Orange march away from the Garvaghy Road.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The Drumcree Orange parade is little more than a sectarian coat trailing exercise through the Catholic community in Portadown. It is up to the Orange Order to explain the rational behind wanting to parade through an area where they are clearly not welcome. Already in preparation for the parade all of the main thoroughfares and business areas have been bedecked in sectarian bunting thereby effectively making the town centre a no go area for Catholics.

"The Parades Commission could not have come to any other decision than to re-route the parade away from Garvaghy Road. No doubt we will now hear the usual threats and sabre rattling from a coalition of the Orange Order, unionist politicians and the unionist paramilitaries demanding that this parade is forced down Garvaghy Road.

" The Parades Commission have an obligation to stand up to these threats and make it very clear to the Orange Order and their allies that the only way to resolve the issue of contentious parades is through a process of real and meaningful dialogue with local residents." ENDS

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West Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Hartley today said that the Parades Commission had made a mistake in allowing an Orange Order march to proceed through Workman's and along the Springfield Road on the Twelfth morning.

Cllr. Hartley said:

" The recent decision of the Parades Commission to direct the Orange Order away from Workman's and through the Mackies site had the potential to defuse much of the parade tensions on the Springfield Road. However the Orange Order chose to defy the Commission and instead held a protest rally on the Shankill Road.

" This action was hardly that of an organisation seeking to ease tensions and seek an accommodation with local residents on the Springfield Road. It seems bizarre to many that within weeks of that determination and with the blatant defiance of it by the Order that a parade along that route has now been given the go ahead.

" It will be of some consolation to local people that they will not have to put up with a return parade which has in the past often descended to little more than a drunken mob staggering home from the field shouting sectarian abuse at local residents.

" Sinn Féin will meet with the local community on the Springfield Road in the coming days to try and ensure that the immediate period passes off peacefully." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly today branded the Parades Commission decision to force an Orange Parade through three nationalist areas, including the Ardoyne area on the evening of July 12th as 'deeply flawed and without logic'.

Mr Kelly said:

" Today's decision by the Parades Commission to force two Orange parades in one day through three nationalist areas including Ardoyne is deeply flawed and without logic. It will cause widespread anger and undoubtedly has the potential to create enormous difficulties. It is the wrong decision and should be reversed.

" Sinn Féin want to see a peaceful marching season. We have demonstrated this time and again. I will of course work tirelessly in the coming days and on the day of the march to try and make this happen. However people should not be naive about this.

" When the Parades Commission make determinations like this they fly in the face of efforts to maintain calm and ensure people can live peacefully and without fear during the marching season. This decision has created a very difficult situation." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP and Martin McGuinness MP will travel to London tomorrow, Tuesday 5th July, to hold a Sinn Féin Reception at Westminster.

Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness will be available to speak to the media at 6.45pm on Abingdon Green before heading to the Sinn Féin Westminster Reception at 7.30pm.

The reception will be attended by a range of people including over 30 cross party MPs and British peers and other politicians from the London Mayor's Office and a range local authorities, a number of Trade Union General Secretaries, influential people from the Irish community and business sector, diplomatic representatives, key media figures and writers and other sectors including ethnic minorities, academic and legal. ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún plans to raise the case of the 'Rossport 5' in the European Parliament this evening. Ms de Brún said that she was hoping to address MEPs to make them aware of 'one small community's fight against the multinationals'.

Ms de Brún made her comments as five Mayo farmers continue to be incarcerated for refusing to give assurances they would not obstruct work on their land regarding the safety implications of a Shell Gas pipeline which is due to be laid. Local people argue that the pipeline should be laid out at sea.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"It is vitally important that the European Union is made aware of the plight of the 'Rossport 5'. This is one small community's fight against the uncaring attitude of the multinationals. As a member of the European Parliament Environment Committee, I am concerned that the pipeline operation has not been shown to comply with the necessary saftey precautions.

"Five men were sent to prison because they had the audacity to oppose the construction of a potentially dangerous gas pipeline through their own land. I call for these men to be released and for their concerns to be addressed with the seriouness they deserve.

"The multinational companies Statoil and Marathon do not care about local communities - their overriding concern is profit. Corrib gas is completely under the control of a company that can write off all its tax, pays no royalties and sells the gas back to the Irish state at market value. I plan to use the platform of the European Parliament to ensure that those in power are aware of this injustice, and that there are those prepared to make a stand against it". ENDS

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has slammed the cut in the price being paid to farmers for sugar beet. He has also claimed that the new EU regime governing the sector is designed to destroy the Irish sugar sector.

Deputy Ferris said: "The cut of over €100 per tonne in the price for beet will have devastating effects on the Irish sector. Coupled with the proposed cuts in the quota and other changes to the quota regime, this will spell disaster for the industry and threatens to destroy the 500 jobs in processing, and drive the 3,700 growers out of production. It is clear in fact that this is the intent of the changes. I am calling on Minister Coughlan to ensure that these moves are opposed and reversed at EU level and that the Government institute a long-term strategy to preserve the sugar beet sector." ENDS

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Sinn Féin on Dublin City Council will tonight call on other parties to support an emergency motion demanding that the Council terminate its contract with Shell Oil with immediate effect. The motion is in response to the imprisonment of five Mayo men last week by the High Court.

Deputy Group Leader and South East Inner City councillor Daithí Doolan said: "These men are in prison for standing up for their community in resisting efforts to bring a potentially lethal high-pressure gas pipeline through their lands. The support for their actions throughout Ireland has been incredible. Ógra Shinn Féin pickets on Shell stations last week reported an unprecedented groundswell of support for this small community standing up to a massive corporation with an atrocious human rights record.

"Sinn Féin, along with other parties and individuals, has called for the immediate release of the Rossport Five but the reality is that it is only when political and economic pressure is brought to bear on corporations like this that anything can be achieved. As a result we are demanding that the Council stand with these five men and the Rossport community by terminating its contract with Shell Oil and we look forward to cross-party support on the issue." ENDS

Text of motion:

This City Council supports the people of Rossport, Co. Mayo in their campaign against Shell Oil & Statoil's laying of a dangerous pipe line in such close proximity to their homes. In light of the court action taken by the these companies and the resulting imprisonment of the 5 land owners, we are calling on this City Council to terminate the City's contract with Shell Oil with immediate effect.

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Sinn Féín MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has hit out at the UUP MP Silvia Hermon after she demanded that the British government remove the salaries from the 24 elected Sinn Féin Assembly members.

Ms Gildernew said:

" The British government embarked sometime ago on a deliberate policy of discriminating against Sinn Féin and the people who vote for our party. This has taken a variety of forms including removing financial support for our Westminster operation and aiding our political opponents through policy and development grants.

" Despite this campaign Sinn Féin have continued to provide an unrivalled constituency service and continue to expand and grow our support base. Our Assembly members in line with party policy take a working wage and contribute the rest of the allocated salary to party development. They are unlike many other MLAs full time political activists working day and daily for the people who elect them.

" This call by the UUP MP Silvia Hermon is obviously the latest stage in their campaign to try and out do the DUP. However given the recent public pronouncements of Silvia Hermon this demand is even more bizarre. It was only a matter of months ago that Silvia Hermon was demanding that the entire Assembly be wound up. Now after a slap down from her Assembly colleagues in the UUP she appears to have adopted the old UUP favourite of a unionist parliament for a unionist people excluding the representatives of the largest nationalist party the six counties." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún and Belfast Councillor Caral Ni Chuilin have today said that 'claims of anti-unionist bias in the allocation of PEACE funding are without foundation and must to be challenged publicly.'

Ms de Brún and Councillor Ni Chuilin made their comments before tonight's meeting of Belfast City Council where DUP Councillors are expected to put forward a motion claiming that unionists did not receive proportionate levels of European funding under the PEACE I and PEACE II programmes.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"The DUP have been running the line recently that unionists have been discriminated against through the allocation and distribution of PEACE funding. I am publicly challenging the DUP on this. The DUP assertion that there has been an anti-unionist bias in the allocation of PEACE funding is without foundation. Funding has been distributed on the basis of need, and can only be based on such criteria in future.

"If the DUP concentrated more on giving support to community groups than making unfounded allegations then there would be no need to have this discussion. The irony will be not lost on people that the DUP are diametrically opposed to the peace process, yet engage without difficulty when it comes to funding secured as a result of the process of conflict resolution in Ireland.

Cllr Ni Chuilin added:

"The Sinn Féin group in Belfast City Council will be vigorously opposing the motion by DUP councillors this evening. This is another in a long line of attempts by the DUP to portray the unionist community as being consistently disadvantaged and discriminated against in favour of the Catholic community. Their stunts will not wash with the ordinary people of Belfast who recognise that disadvantage and deprivation affect all communities in the city." ENDS

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The five Sinn Féin TDs this morning handed a letter to the Norwegain Ambassor, His Excellency Mr Truls Hanevold, requesting the Norwegian Government instruct its state company Statoil to use its influence with its partner in the Corrib Gas development, Shell, to have the injunctions against the Mayo protestors lifted. The TDs are also asking that Statoil cease all work on the pipeline pending a full inquiry into al aspects of the project.

(Text of letter) :

A Chara,

We, the undersigned, Sinn Féin TDs, respectfully

request that the Norwegian Government instruct Statoil to use its influence with it's partner in the Corrib consortium, Shell, to lift all court actions against the protesters in Mayo.

We also request that Statoil instruct the consortium to cease all work on the pipeline pending a full enquiry into all aspects of the project.

Finally, we would respectfully draw the Norwegian Government and people's attention to the fact that Statoil is part of a development that would not be acceptable in Norway itself on environmental and safety grounds, and that Statoil is benefiting from revenue and licensing terms that would not be permitted under Norway's own regulatory system.

Is muidne,

Caoimghin O Caolain
Aengus O Snodaigh
Martin Ferris
Arthur Morgan
Sean Crowe

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson John O'Dowd MLA has described the plans announced this morning by direct rule Health Minster Shaun Woodward as a disaster waiting to happen.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The plan to take resources away from hospitals that fail to meet waiting list targets is a disaster waiting to happen. The net result will be that hospitals that are already struggling will have services further eroded. It will mean hospital closures.

"A quick fix solution is a mistake. We need to fill staff vacancies and we need to begin to train more medical staff right across the health care spectrum.

"The only way that there will be progress is if staff shortages are addressed, particularly the unacceptable level of consultant shortages. The recruitment of over one hundred hospital consultants across the entire range of specialist disciplines within the North's health service must become an urgent priority action for NIO minister, Shaun Woodward.

"Earlier this year, I challenged former NIO health minister, Angela Smith, to take action to fill the 119 vacancies for hospital consultants which existed in 17 out of 18 Trusts. That scandalously high level of vacancies has unquestionably contributed to unnecessary stress and additional burdens on existing medical staff, and is a major contributory factor in the numbers of patient waiting for treatment.

"I have no doubt that the recruitment and placement of over 100 hospital consultants in order to fill those existing vacancies would have a major and immediate positive impact upon the provision and delivery of heath service treatment for increased numbers of patients across the entire range of medical specialities.

"The minister must announce actions that ensures additional funding being made available to Trusts to enable them to fill these vacancies, and should also include an immediate ending of any freeze which the Department may have imposed upon Trusts in relation to the release of recruitment and development funding." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP and Mayo County Councillor Gerry Murray speaking outside of Cloverhill Prison this morning called for the immediate release of the Rossport 5.

Gerry Adams had been due to visit Micheál Ó Seighin, Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath, Willie Corduff and Brendan Philbin this morning but had been prevented from doing so by the Department of Justice. Councillor Murray met with Vincent McGrath.

Mr. Adams said:

The jailing of the five Mayo men, on foot of their protest against the Corrib gas pipeline, is totally wrong. They should be released immediately and the injunctions against all others involved should be lifted.

"These men and their families and neighbours believe that the pipeline is unsafe as the pressure of gas is far too high for its proximity to homes. This view is supported by many people.

"Sinn Féin has repeatedly called for an independent review which despite Minister Dempsey's claim has never been carried out. The so-called independent review of Shell's risk analysis was conducted by a company half owned by Shell.

"Pending a full enquiry into all aspects of the project; from the initial deal made under the terms agreed by corrupt former Minister Burke, to the ongoing safety concerns, all work should be halted.

"We are also calling for the state to reclaim the Irish peoples stake in our natural resources and institute a tax and royalties scheme that ensures that the Irish people benefit from the gas.

"It is a ludicrous situation that Corrib gas is completely under the control of a company that can write off all its tax, pays no royalties and sells the gas back to the Irish state at market value. It is unprecedented in any other country." ENDS

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