Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has described SDLP MLA John Dallat's defence of the IMC and his criticism of the Sinn Féin decision to legally challenge the British government's discrimination against the party's electorate as 'nothing short of disgraceful'.
Ms Gildernew said:
" John Dallat takes issue with Sinn Féin challenging blatant British government discrimination against the majority of the nationalist community in the six counties who vote for Sinn Féin not to mention the rest of the people on the island who support our party.
" John Dallat needs to realise that Sinn Féin will make no apology for defending the rights and entitlements of the nationalist and republican community. We make no apology for challenging the IMC Report, a report which in reality is little more than a proxy for the securocrats.
" Sinn Féin is not prepared to simply roll over because the British government take a decision to discriminate against the Irish electorate. It is nothing short of disgraceful that the SDLPs John Dallat not only defends this British government discrimination but goes on to support the IMC a body which lacks credibility and operates entirely outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement." ENDS
Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East, Daithí Doolan, speaking today in Ringsend, ahead of tonight's major anti incineration public meeting has called on all political parties, "to form a Coalition Against Incineration and to sign an anti incineration pledge. This must not just be the candidates but the parties they represent, committing themselves to opposing incineration anywhere in Dublin. The proposed incinerator for Ringsend must be met with cross party opposition. Our environment and our health must not be allowed to become a political football particularly at election time. It is time the public knew where their political parties stood on this serious issue."
Mr. Doolan said:
"Candidates and the parties they represent have varying positions on the issue of incineration. It was the major political parties, including Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour that voted for incineration in December 1998 when debating the Waste Management Plan for Dublin. We now need to move the waste management debate beyond land fill or incineration.
"Sinn Féin has offered a credible alternative, we have launched and called for the implementation of a Zero Waste Strategy, a strategy based on actually tackling the waste crisis at source. This strategy is aimed at reducing the waste we produce, reusing where appropriate and investing in our fledging recycling industry."
Mr. Doolan concluded by calling on parties, "to rise to the challenge and support this proposal and form a Coalition Against Incineration. The public, their health and our environment deserves nothing less than cross party support." ENDS
For further information contact Daithí [email protected] 086 8534666
The public meeting takes place tonight, May 20th, 8pm
Clanna Gael GAA Club
Sean Moore road
Sinn Féin will launch its campaign against the Citizenship Referendum in Buswells Hotel on Friday next (tomorrow), May 21st at 10.30am.
At the launch will be Sinn Féin chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, the Party's EU candidate for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald and Daithi Doolan of Dublin Sinn Féin.
SINN FÉIN CITIZENSHIP REFERENDUM
Friday May 21st, 2004
Responding to reports that the privatisation of bus services in Ireland could cost Bus Eireann an additional €24million Sinn Féin EU candidate for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald described it as "another in a series of reports confirming that the Minister‚s plans for privatising public transport are nothing short of lunacy." Ms McDonald pointed to the failure of the transport models across Europe that Minister Brennan is considering and expressed the hope that the report would cause a Œrethink in Government policy.‚
Ms McDonald said: "This is another report that confirms the Minster‚s plans for privatising public transport are nothing short of lunacy. He is shamelessly pursuing the interests of transnational public transport operators by opening up the Irish transport market with no more than a hunch to go on. Private companies will put profit before the people time and time again. This has been proven across Europe.
"But the issue here is not one of competition, but of control. In the place of publically accountable CIE and the small number of private operators we will increasingly have what the report calls "a cartel/oligopoly market structure which cannot be reasonably considered as an improvement on what exists".
"Since Dublin Bus will lose 25% of its routes to private operators under a scheme based on the discredited deregulation in Britain it stands to suffer the most from Minister‚s Brennan‚s incoherent transport policy. Franchising and deregulation in Britain led to a massive 16% decline in passenger bus numbers, fare increases amounting to 23% (35% in London) and a deteriorating service. The only exception to falling passenger numbers was in London, and this was solely as a result of doubling the Government‚s transport grant to London.
"In Copenhagen, another transport model advocated by the Minister who clearly cannot make up his mind, costs have risen, passenger carryings have fallen, reliability of services has declined and the Greater Copenhagen Authority is unable to control the three transnational corporations operating in the market.
"The report today exposes again the shambles that is Minister Brennan‚s transport proposals. His Government was obliged to climbdown on the issue of electronic voting when an independent report proved the system would not work. Hopefully this report will cause a similar rethink in Government policy." ENDS
As part of the Sinn Féin appeal for a Peaceful Summer in interface areas the party President Gerry Adams this afternoon visited the Short Strand. Mr Adams was joined by local Councillor Joe O'Donnell and Assembly members Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey who are heading up a Sinn Féin effort to ensure a quiet summer in the city.
Speaking from the Short Strand Mr Adams said:
"Two summers ago this small nationalist area endured over two months of daily attacks and intimidation. The people living in this community and indeed surrounding communities suffered immensely. Thankfully last summer this interface was much more peaceful. But this did not happen by accident. It was a direct result of a concerted effort and hard work by many people from both sections of the community.
"We need to ensure that this work happens again this summer. That is why we have asked Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey to head up an engagement by Sinn Féin with other political parties, as well as civic society, the community and voluntary sector, and opinion across all sections of society, in order to build on the progress that was made last year.
"Sinn Féin have been working since last summer with interface communities across Belfast in formulating a template to address the issue of interface tensions. That work has now been completed and a template document has been passed to the British government and will be made public in the coming days.
" It is my hope that this grassroots initiative taken with the wider political initiatives co-oriented by Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey will ensure that the work done last summer is built upon and that families living in areas like this enjoy a peaceful summer." ENDS
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has said that he is 'deeply concerned at the significant rise in unionist paramilitary activity over the past number of weeks'. Mr McLaughlin was speaking on his return from London where he was briefing MPs about the current situation in the peace process.
Mr McLaughlin said:
"This week has seen the murder of a man in East Belfast as part of ongoing internecine feuding amongst unionist paramilitaries. It has also witnessed a murder bid on a Sinn Féin member in Ballymena, a bomb hoax in Leinster House, attacks on Catholic homes in Portadown and North Belfast and death threats issued to four Sinn Féin Assembly members and three other party activists living in East Derry.
"I have real concerns about the significant increase in unionist paramilitary activity over the past number of weeks since the publication of the IMC Report. There is clearly a real threat to nationalists in general and to Sinn Fein activists in particular.
"Sinn Féin have never in the past and will not in the future allow this sort of intimidation to prevent us from representing and defending the rights and entitlements of the nationalist and republican electorate. However, we need to hear more from the political representatives if unionism regarding this matter. We need to hear from them in very clear terms that these threats and attacks are unacceptable and must stop." ENDS
West Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Bairbre de Brún has demanded that the Policing Board close the Andersonstown PSNI base at their meeting today and that the ground vacated is used for community regeneration.
Ms de Brún said:
"Sinn Féin have been campaigning for decades for the closure of the Andersonstown base. It is a blight on the local community and offers no public service for the people of West Belfast. Indeed it is little more than a heavily fortified spy post in the heart of a residential area.
"I am demanding that the Policing Board end the stalling and close this base. The ground vacated should then be used for regeneration purposes in consultation with the local community. Already there is a proposal on the table for a tourist hostel to be built on the site.
"In recent years there have been a number of false dawns with SDLP representatives announcing the closure of the base only for it to remain in place. Sinn Féin will continue campaigning until this blight on the community of West Belfast is removed." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate for the Dublin constituency, Mary Lou McDonald has today said that the volume of queries to the Equality Authority regarding maternity leave were 'worryingly high' and 'proof that women are not receiving enough information on their maternity rights and entitlements.'
Ms McDonald was speaking after she attended yesterdays launch of the Equality Authority's Annual Report 2003.
Ms McDonald said:
"I would like to congratulate the hard work of the Equality Authority since its formation under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement 1n 1998.
"Their Annual Report 2003 makes for some interesting reading. Last year, the Equality Authority received 2,951 queries regarding maternity leave - this is a worryingly high figure.
"The volume of calls over one year suggests that there are still a number of issues surrounding the rights and entitlements of pregnant women. Discrimination is still occurring in this area, as witnessed by the high number of pregnancy discrimination cases before the courts.
"There is also a disparity on this island on the issue of maternity leave. In the Six Counties, women are entitled to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, with another 26 weeks unpaid. In this state, under the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill currently before the Oireachtas women will only entitled to 18 weeks, with a further 4 unpaid leave. Sinn Féin calls for an all-Ireland approach to maternity leave, and is attempting to amend the Bill currently before the Dáil to raise maternity leave to 26 weeks paid followed by an optional 26 weeks unpaid or on an equal par currently statutory entitlements in the Six Counties". ENDS
Sinn Fein Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that the Westminster Report highlighting the failure of the Housing Executive to develop a strategy to tackle homelessness for 14 years and the excessive costs this failure has incurred as a result of housing people in Bed and Breakfast accommodation demand greater accountability.
Mr McCann said:
"The failure of the Department of Social Development and the Housing Executive to develop a strategy to tackle homelessness is well known.
Against the backdrop where homelessness increased by 50% between 1999/2000 and 2002/03 and still appears to be spiralling out of control it is unforgivable. Behind the statistics there are lives that are blighted by the failure of DSD and the Housing Executive to put in place a strategy to support people who become homeless back into secure accommodation.
"It is also a disgrace that the failure to have in place a coherent strategy has meant that thousands of pounds have gone into the pockets of private landlords running B&B, despite the fact that everyone accepts that B&B's represent a massive cost to the tax payer and acknowledged as unsuitable except in emergencies.
"This report must lead to greater scrutiny of the Housing Executive to ensure that it delivers on commitments. There must be genuine accountability and real partnership." ENDS
Sinn Féin EU candidate for the North West constituency Pearse Doherty has insisted that "the EU has no place as a global policeman - what we need to is resource and reform the UN to enable it to properly enforce international law".
Speaking today in reaction to the EU Defence Ministers' agreement that the 25 EU member states should increase EU military capacity to enable the EU Rapid Reaction Force to deploy Battle Groups throughout the world by 2010,
Mr Doherty said:
"EU Defence Ministers including Irish Minister for Defence Michael Smith has committed to a new Headline Goal for 2010 which would require the member states to contribute finance and personnel to rapid deployment Battle Groups to enable the EU to act as a global policeman. The EU has no place as a global policeman and the Minister for Defence had no business committing Ireland to back any such plan. What we really need is to resource and reform the UN to enable it to properly enforce international law. This should be the international, the EU, and the Irish priority for international security.
"This Government and the EU are both allegedly committed to UN primacy. If genuine, such a commitment would dictate an increase in EU resources to UN reform and capacity building to compensate for decades of financial strangulation by the states who have refused to pay their arrears in UN membership dues. The persistent diversion of EU resources to build up the EU as some kind of military superpower has done nothing for UN capacity or primacy - if anything it has undermined it.
"The EU needs to straighten out its global priorities. Instead of spending 161 billion euro on military capacity every year, it should collectively commit the estimated 100 billion euro it would take to halve global poverty by 2015." ENDS
The five Sinn Féin TDs have tabled a motion in advance of tomorrow's Statements on the current situation in Iraq. In a detailed motion, due to be published tomorrow, they demanded that the Irish Government immediately suspend overflight and landing privileges for US troops and called on the Irish people to come out and register their opposition to the forthcoming visit of US President George W. Bush.
The motion accuses the Government of "assisting hundreds of thousands of US troops to participate in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq" which has "resulted in tens of thousands of deaths including the killing of approximately 10,000 civilians and nearly 900 occupation troops including approximately 800 American soldiers"
It says "Irish assistance in this war has contributed to a situation where thousands of people including children are being injured or killed by exploding cluster bombs"
The motion goes on to express its "anger at the cost of this war to date, including an estimated spend of over $100 billion by the US alone" which, it says "could have been better spent in the war on global poverty, hunger and disease"
The motion also strongly criticises "the torture and killing of Iraqi prisoners of war by US and British occupation troops" before demanding "the immediate suspension of overflight and landing privileges granted by the Government to military and civilian chartered aircraft conveying US troops to Iraq"
Calling on the Government "to spare no effort in international diplomacy both under the EU Presidency and as a sovereign state to ensure a speedy end to the occupation of Iraq by the so-called Coalition of the Willing", the motion also "calls on Irish people to peacefully register their opposition to the occupation of Iraq and to Irish collusion in that occupation on the occasion of the US President's visit to Ireland during the US-EU Summit"
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh said "Supporting this war in any shape or form goes against the wishes of the people of Ireland and against our neutrality." ENDS
Sinn Fein Six County EU Candidate Bairbre de Brún will be joined tomorrow morning (Thursday 20th) by National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin and South Belfast Assembly member Alex Maskey to launch the party's EU Election Web Site.
The launch will take place in the ixp internet centre on the Ormeau Road (Opposite Sinn Féin Office on Lower Ormeau Road) at 11.15am
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has announced that party colleagues Gerry Kelly MLA and Alex Maskey MLA have been asked to head up an engagement by Sinn Féin with other political parties, as well as civic society, the community and voluntary sector, and opinion across all sections of society, in order to ensure a peaceful summer and to build on the progress that was made last year.
The Sinn Féin leader told a press conference in Belfast this morning that Sinn Féin raised this issue at a meeting with the two governments last week. He said: "In our discussions with the two governments Sinn Fein has urged them to participate in and resource a co-ordinated effort to ensure a repeat of last years quiet summer, to encourage the work of the existing cross-community groups, to encourage dialogue and prevent conflict and to pursue a peaceful way of resolving disputes locally."
Full Text of statement:
"Last year we experienced the quietest summer for decades. This did not come about by accident. It was a direct result of a concerted effort and hard work by many people from both sections of the community.
" Consequently many families experienced for the first time in years welcome relief from the burden of fear and violence that has been inflicted upon them annually throughout the summer months.
" No family or community should have to endure the deep trauma and fear occasioned by interface conflict during the marching season or at any other time of the year.
" A quiet summer would also make a significant contribution to building confidence, particularly given the continuing political impasse.
" In this context, of building confidence and trust, Sinn Fein has proposed to the two governments the need to quickly examine and implement a process which will seek to ensure that the positive progress made last year is sustained and built upon.
" Towards this end we have asked two of our MLAs, Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey, to engage with civic society, the community and voluntary sector, and political opinion across all sections of society to encourage active support for this approach.
" I will also use my influence as leader of our party in whatever way possible, including by direct public appeal, to help ensure the whole community experiences a peaceful summer.
" In our discussions with the two governments Sinn Fein has urged them to participate in and resource a co-ordinated effort to ensure a repeat of last years quiet summer, to encourage the work of the existing cross-community groups, to encourage dialogue and prevent conflict and to pursue a peaceful way of resolving disputes locally." ENDS
Editors Note: Mr Adams will visit the Short Strand area tomorrow along with party colleagues Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey and they will be joined in a tour of the area by local Councillor Joe O'Donnell. They will be available to speak to the media at 12 noon outside the Short Strand Community Centre
Sinn Féin EU candidate Bairbre de Brún continued her campaign today visiting a number of areas in Belfast.
While on the campaign trail she called on the British and Irish governments to 'plan now for the ending of Objective 1 status in 2006'.
Ms de Brún said:
'Ireland, north and south, has been a major recipient of EU structural funds over the past decade. This important source of funding comes to an end in 2006. In addition EU funding structures will adopt a new structure from that date. Existing Objective categories will be replaced by a series of Priorities.
'The majority of funding will be spent on a new Cohesion fund, which Ireland will not be eligible for. However under priorities dealing with employability, training and all Ireland development funds are available.
'Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring that Ireland receives the largest possible allocation post 2006 and this money is spent in the most effective and strategic manor.
'In addition we are continuing to lobby both the Irish and British government and the EU Commission to ensure that peace funding continued after the ending of the current Peace II programme.
'Sinn Fein has argued for some time that future structural and peace funds need to focus on tackling discrimination and social exclusion, furthering all Ireland development and securing national reconciliation. In addition the community sector and local communities need to be given a greater role in designing and implementing any future funding programmes' ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Arthur Morgan TD, has welcomed the decision by the Government to refer the Maritime Security Bill to the Attorney General for advice on the possible implications that the legislation might have for those involved in industrial action and other forms of protest. Minister for State at the Department of the Marine, John Browne, made the announcement after concerns on this issue had been raised during the debate by Deputies Morgan and Ferris.
At the conclusion of the Second Stage Debate, Minister Browne said: "Deputies Morgan and Ferris asked if the Bill could be used in cases involving industrial action or a protest against states or businesses. Advice has been sought from the Office of the Attorney General on these points, to which we will return at Committee Stage."
Deputy Morgan said:
"While this legislation is designed to embody a UN Convention to tackle terrorism at sea, both Deputy Ferris and I raised concerns that some of its provisions could be used against people engaged in industrial action and other legitimate protest. I am pleased to see that Minister Browne agrees that this is something that needs to be clarified and we will await the response of the Attorney General before deciding whether we need to address the issue through amendments at Committee Stage." ENDS
Sinn Féin Assembly member for East Derry Francie Brolly has said that he is 'greatly concerned' after the PSNI visited the homes of three party members in Kilrea to inform them that they were under threat from unionist paramilitaries.
Mr Brolly said:
"This week alone two bombs were left outside the home of a party member in Ballymena and the PSNI have visited the homes of a number of Sinn Féin MLAs informing them of a threat to their lives. Last night three party members in Kilrea were visited by the PSNI and advised to increase their security in light of a specific threat to them from unionist paramilitaries.
"It is very clear that there is a real threat now being posed to Sinn Féin members across the six counties. Despite this other political parties and indeed the British government have remained virtually silent. I am quite sure that if members of any other political party in the middle of an election campaign were being subject to a series of death threats then there would be a public outcry.
"Unionist paramilitaries are attempting to intimidate Sinn Féin members with a very organised campaign of violence and intimidation. They clearly have an agenda to disrupt the election campaign and attempt to prevent Sinn Féin representatives from providing a service for our constituents. I believe that it is no accident that this campaign has intensified since the publication of the IMC Report. It is obvious that there are those within the unionist community who will use that flawed report as cover for this sort of violent activity." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was joined by party colleagues Bairbre de Brún and Conor Murphy this morning as he revealed details of a legal challenge against the decision of the British government to sanction Sinn Fein in the wake of the flawed IMC Report
Mr Adams said:
"British government sanctions discriminate against our electorate. They are undemocratic and in our view are a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle has now taken a decision to challenge the British government sanctions against our party through the courts.
"The IMC was established by the British and Irish governments last year. It is clearly in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. The role of the IMC was to facilitate the exclusion of Sinn Féin, to soft pedal on unionist violence and to ignore totally the behaviour of the British government, the party most in breach of the Agreement.
"The IMC is not independent. That much is obvious from its remit and membership.
"The recent report from the IMC, which the British government is using as the basis to discriminate against Sinn Féin, is a proxy report by the securocrats, PSNI and British Army. The recommendations are clearly discriminatory and subvert the democratic and electoral rights and mandate of Sinn Féin and our electorate.
"Moreover the IMC report itself acknowledges that Sinn Féin "is not in a position actually to determine what policies or operational strategies PIRA will adopt." Having admitted this and accepted that Sinn Féin has used its influence it then proceeds to recommend sanctions against us.
"We take this case not in the expectation of a British court finding against a British government in favour of Sinn Féin but we are duty bound to defend the rights and entitlements of our electorate and also to exhaust all domestic remedies in so doing." ENDS
Note to editor
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD launched a strong attack on the Irish Government's role in lifting the EU embargo on Genetically Modified food. Deputy Ferris was speaking as the EU Commission moved this morning to lift the ban on Bt-11, a genetically modified maize. Deputy Ferris attempted to have Dáil proceedings adjourned this morning in order to discuss the issue.
Deputy Ferris said: "The Irish Government's role in ending the embargo, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of EU citizens, is nothing short of disgraceful. Commissioner David Byrne has been the main advocate of the change at Commission level and the Irish Government has been among a minority of states which have consistently voted in favour of allowing GM over the past six months.
"This is despite the fact that there has been no debate or vote of any kind in this country and that the Government's stance represents a complete u-turn from Fianna Fáil's stated policy prior to coming to power. Indeed this has been raised openly by Fianna Fáil TD Michael Mulcahy. I will continue to voice my opposition to the lifting of existing embargoes on GM food and crops, and to campaign for Ireland to become a GM free zone. Tomorrow I will be questioning Minister Joe Walsh with regard to why he has changed his attitude to GM, having previously condemned it as an experiment in which the consumer is the guinea pig." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD attempted to have the Dáil adjourned this afternoon in order to have a debate on the need for a public inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. His call comes the day after the 30th anniversary commemoration of the tragedies.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"In this, the week that marks the 30th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghanbombings which killed 34 people and which were carried out by agents of the British government, there is a need for the Government to act without further delay on foot of the report of the Oireachtas Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights Committee's Sub Committee on the Barron Report, including the consideration of the Sub-Committee's report by the Dáil. In addition, there is a need for the Irish Government to press the British Government for an international public inquiry covering both jurisdictions on this island. Given the intransigence of the British government on this just demand, the Irish Government need to mobilise international opinion in support of such an inquiry.
Deputy O Caoláin added "After 30 years of prevaricating on this issue, the Irish Government owes it to the families of the victims and indeed to the memory of the victims themselves to persist in demanding that a full international public inquiry be carried out. After 30 years, the time for this has well and truly come." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice issues Gerry Kelly has said revelations that the PSNI intend to use Public Interest Immunity Certificates (PIIC) to suppress Special Branch files in a case involving two killings in Upper Bann show clearly that 'the culture of concealment is alive and well'.
Mr Kelly said:
" We have heard much from the British government and PSNI Chief Hugh Orde in recent weeks about truth recovery processes and the need for families to have closure. Yet every time requests are made of the PSNI for disclosure they react with PIICs.
" We have seen the refusal of the PSNI to co-operate with the inquests into nine killings in Tyrone, they failed to co-operate with the inquest into Pearse Jordan in Belfast and now they are refusing to co-operate with the inquest into two killings in Upper Bann.
" So much for Hugh Orde's commitment to the truth and his commitment to families searching for closure. It is very obvious that what is alive and well within the British system and in particular within the PSNI is the old culture of concealment and protection." ENDS