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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 MEP Matt Carthy has severely criticised the refusal of Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to release the Crowley Report into the death of Aidan McAnespie.

Matt Carthy said:

“Today’s announcement by Minister Charlie Flanagan that he will not publish the Crowley Report into the killing of Aidan McAnespie by the British Army is an insult to the McAnespie family and will be greeted with dismay by all those seeking truth and justice about the death of their loved ones at the hands of state forces during the conflict.

“That this announcement was made on the sad occasion of the 30th anniversary of Aidan McAnespie’s death makes the decision all the more hurtful and disappointing.

“As someone who knows many members of the McAnespie family personally, I want to commend them on the dignified manner of their campaign for truth and justice, which has been denied for far too long.

"The publication of the Crowley Report is a vital  step in getting to the truth of the death of this young Irishman.

“The McAnespie family will continue to receive my full support and that of my party in their campaign for truth and justice about the death of Aidan.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has voted against the European Parliament's reports on the proposals for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base in the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee in Brussels today, Wednesday. A large majority of the ECON committee voted in favour of the Common Corporate Tax Base (CCTB) and Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) proposals as part of a consultation procedure.


Speaking after the vote, Carthy said: “I don’t support the proposals from the Commission for a CCCTB. While I have engaged constructively with the Parliament as part of this process, it is a seriously flawed proposal that Sinn Féin can't support.

“Since the Commission launched its new proposal I have been arguing that we cannot make such a sweeping reform based on unreliable data. Last year our group in the European Parliamentcommissioned a study by academics from the Tax Justice Network, who found the Commission’s assessments to be flawed and called for an impact assessment to be carried out based on the new resource that has been created by the introduction of an OECD standard for country-by-country company reporting. Taking major policy steps without such an analysis would be deeply irresponsible.

“I supported the proposal to establish a compensation fund for states that experience a sudden and sharp loss of revenue if the CCCTB is introduced. 

“As well as worries over the impact this will have on the Irish state’s tax powers and revenue, my key concern is that EU member states are being asked to transfer further powers over taxation to the Commission in exchange for the promise that this new system will end the ability of multinationals to shift profits – but shortcomings in the proposal mean this goal will not be achieved.

“Profit-shifting outside of the EU is not addressed at all by this proposal and will actually increase the incentive for multinationals to shift profits outside the EU. 

“By creating a common tax base across the EU, the proposal will in fact promote a race to the bottom on tax rates as the rate itself will be the only measure left for Member States to compete on.

“The Parliament’s report also created a new loophole in the formula by which profits are to be apportioned, introducing the so-called ‘data factor’, which may allow misrepresentation of true economic activity by the tech giants.

“The Irish government has signalled its concerns over this proposal and no doubt will continue to do so. At the same time the government needs to act now to end the dangerous and unsustainable situation in which it actively markets the Irish state as a tax avoidance hub, and in which our public finances are severely over-reliant on the corporation tax receipts of a handful of multinationals. This situation leaves our public finances extremely vulnerable to changes in the international tax landscape, especially in the EU and the US.”

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Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said today that the DUP decision to collapse political talks in the north could not be an excuse for the continued denial of rights enjoyed by citizens everywhere else on these islands.

The Sinn Féin President was speaking after she led a party delegation including vice President Michelle O’Neill MLA, Conor Murphy MLA and Francie Molloy MP into meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking after the meetings, Mary Lou McDonald TD said:

“For the past 13 months Sinn Féin has been engaged in talks with the DUP and the two governments in an effort to re-establish the Executive in the north on the basis of equality, rights and respect in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

“During the talks a draft agreement was reached with the DUP leadership.

“We are disappointed that the DUP failed to deliver on the agreement and subsequently collapsed the talks process.

 “Today it was clear that the British government has no plan. We made it clear to Theresa May that the collapse of the talks by the DUP cannot be an excuse for the continued denial rights to citizens in the north or the refusal to implement previous agreements.

“We updated the British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the draft agreement we had reached with the DUP, and the need to secure the rights of Irish Speakers, the right to marriage equality and the right of families to coroners’ inquests, rights enjoyed by citizens everywhere else on these islands.

“While the talks process has been collapsed, standing still is not an option for the British government in particular. Citizens have rights, and agreements made, must be agreements implemented.

“The two governments must now act.  

“The Good Friday Agreement provides for the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference and this must be convened to ensure the full implementation of agreements and to protect and promote the rights of all citizens.“

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Senator Rose Conway-Walsh addressed the to Minister of State, Jim Daly, in the Seanad today and advised that it is not too late to do the right thing for thousands of people suffering chronic pain and their families.

Speaking during the debate on Versatis in the Seanad, Senator Conway-Walsh said:

"The decision to restrict prescribing Vesatis has caused physical pain and mental distress to thousands of low income citizens and their families.

"For several weeks now we have unsuccessfully tried to get answers to a number of questions.

"Did the HSE make any attempt to negotiate a better price with the manufacturers of Versatis, before this decision was taken?

"Was a full and proper cost benefit analysis carried out before limiting access to Versatis? 

"Did they consider the extra costs associated with alternative medication, hospitalisation, home help, home care hours and anti-depressants?

"How can we say it’s perfectly fine to prescribe Versatis for non-shingles related pain relief to those who can pay, but it is not suitable for those on low-incomes dependent on medical cards or the drugs payment scheme?

"Minister do you not trust the judgement of GP’s and Medical Consultants?  

"Do you not think that introducing the additional layer of approval totally undermines the patient/GP/Consultant relationship?  

"No indication was given to GP’s on how to take patients of this treatment safely.

"A solution to this most distressing situation is possible. That solution has to be lasting and sustainable. That can only happen once the Government looks at the issue in a patient-centred and compassionate manner.

"Minister, at the stroke of a pen today, Minister Harris can go back to the HSE and request them to carry out a review the decision to restrict Versatis.  

"He can ask them to revert to the pre-december position whereby those experiencing chronic and unbearable pain can avail of Versatis regardless of their income.

"The time spent by very Senior personnel within the HSE would be better spent examining international research that demonstrates the effectiveness of Versatis rather than looking at appeals.

"Mile buiochas to each and every person who has picked up the phone or took pen to paper to tell us their personal experience, to tell us of their pain and the need to continue the only effective treatment.  

"I also want to acknowledge the important part our National Broadcaster RTE through the Joe Duffy Show has played in ensuring that the voices of those suffering the most are heard.

"I want to thank Chronic Pain Ireland, Arthritis Ireland, Fibro Ireland, MS Ireland and all of the other organisations who seek to serve the most vulnerable in our society for the work they are doing to get this decision reversed."

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Sinn Féin victims and legacy spokesperson Linda Dillon has expressed disappointment that Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has refused to release the Crowley Report into the death of Aidan McAnespie.

The Mid Ulster MLA said:

“Today marks the 30th anniversary of the killing of Aidan McAnespie by a British soldier.

“For too long his family’s demand for truth and justice has been denied. Publishing the report would be another step in getting to the truth of what happened on that morning.

“It is disappointing that Charlie Flanagan will not publish the report.

“Sinn Féin will continue to support McAnespie family in their pursuit of truth and justice.

“Today’s decision is another example of why the funding for legacy inquests need to be released and the consultation on the legacy structures agreed at Stormont House should begin immediately.” 

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Sinn Féin’s Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said the government is abusing its power to frustrate, delay and kill opposition legislation through its refusal to grant “money messages”.

Speaking in the Dáil this week, Teachta Doherty said;

“There are 27 Bills currently awaiting Money Messages from the Department of Public Expenditure before the various Dáil Committees.

“In the case of my Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, the Finance Committee has twice requested an update and money message, without response.

“This is a Bill that the government supports, that the whole House passed, and that would protect consumers from insurers refusing to pay out on frivolous grounds like because you had a broken burglar alarm when your house burned down.

“It is clear to me that the government are using the Money Message system to frustrate opposition Bills and the will of the Dáil. It is using the archaic Money Message system to stop opposition Bills progressing through the Dáil. 

“Figures released to me show that, of the 29 Opposition PMBs before Committee, only two have received a Money Message.

“This is totally unacceptable. An Opposition Bill which passes to Committee stage has as much right as any Government bill to go to Committee and ultimately pass into law.

“The Minister for Public Expenditure needs to start doing his job and releasing these messages and stop trying to dictate the Oireachtas agenda through the back door.”

Note: Please see the current figures attached

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed confirmation from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) that work on the upgrading of the road between Derry and Dungiven is expected to get under way in Spring.

The East Derry MLA said:

"It has been confirmed by DfI that work will begin on this new road between Derry and Dungiven once a contractor is appointed. 

“I welcome news that construction is expected to begin in Spring 2018.

“This is a significant step in the process of upgrading one of the most used roads in the north of Ireland.

“The upgrade of this 15-mile section of the A6 scheme will start at Drumahoe and will include the bypass around Dungiven, which would help ease the build-up of traffic that often leads to a bottleneck in the town.

“Above all this the process will further increase access to and from the north west, which is long overdue.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, Denise Mitchell TD, has accused the government of failing a generation of children when it comes to housing, health or child poverty.

Deputy Mitchell was speaking following the launch by Barnardos of its Lost Childhood campaign which highlights how one in seven children in the State is experiencing homelessness, poverty and neglect.

Deputy Mitchell said: 

“The Government is keen to point to economic growth in the State, but if we learned anything from the Celtic Tiger it’s that investment in public services should be a priority when the economy is strong.

“The reality is that even during the worst periods of the recession there were not 3,000 homeless children. Child homelessness has almost doubled since 2015.

"I have had to accompany families to present themselves as homeless down at Parkgate Hall too many times already this year; and it is only February. The Government’s approach clearly is not working.

“The increase is a direct consequence of a failure by Government to provide truly affordable homes and social housing.

"I am again urging the Government to work with Local Authorities and provide them with multi-annual funding commitments to facilitate forward planning.”

Deputy Mitchell also raised concerns over the failure of the Government to fund and staff mental health services for young people:

“We have 7,000 kids waiting on mental health appointments – with one third waiting more than a year – while staffing levels in the Child and Adolescent  Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are  just over half of what is recommended. That needs to be addressed urgently.

“We need to see the recommendations outlined in ‘A Vision for Change’ realised in order to ensure that young people have the mental health supports they require.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Louth TD, Gerry Adams, has called on the government, as the majority owner of Permanent TSB to instruct the Bank that “it must not sell-off 20,000 mortgages to vulture funds or unregulated loan owners”.

Deputy Adams said:

“Cleary there are families and households in Louth who face an uncertain future because of the threat by Permanent TSB to sell off their mortgages to vulture funds.

"Sinn Féin is proposing legislation that will regulate the vulture funds. So, also is Fianna Fáil.

"However, legislation and regulation are only one part of the equation for dealing with this matter. The government can and should, as the majority shareholder, instruct Permanent TSB not to sell its distress mortgages, and it should do so immediately.

"The government should also instruct banks in which it has a majority share, and which were saved at a huge cost to the Irish taxpayer, to look seriously at writing down some of the mortgage debt as a way of easing the crisis.

"If the government fails to take a stand on this issue, there is a real risk that other Banks will follow suit. All of this adds significantly to the crisis in housing that is faced by families across the state.

"Vulture funds are well named. Their only interest is in making a profit, and making it fast.

"They are not interested in negotiating with homeowners nor have they any interest in the social consequences of forcing families into homelessness.

"The government has been negligent in regulating vulture funds and has failed to act on advice from the Central Bank.

"In 2015 the Central Bank stated that its 'preferred policy approach was for the regulation of the actual loan owners' – that is the vulture funds.

"The government ignored this and chose instead to regulate the credit servicing companies that manage the loan for the vulture fund but not the vulture fund itself.

"While the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears will still apply, the Central Bank wanted greater control over the owner of the loan. The government denied the Central Bank this ability.

"One reason for that may have been the very successful lobbying campaign that was carried out by the vulture funds who met officials from the Department of Finance over 60 times in a two-year period.”

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Speaking today, Brian Stanley TD, Sinn Féin Communications Spokesperson, said that mobile blackspots are affecting both people’s day to day quality of life and future rural economic development after the publication of The Report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce

The Laois TD said:

“Unfortunately, much of the state is covered by communications no-go areas and, as the Minister acknowledged in his speech this morning, this is affecting the growth of business in rural Ireland and in towns across Ireland. This is affecting thousands of householders, farmers and students, with some areas actually getting worse.  Parts of the State that once had mobile coverage have none now, or have lower quality coverage.

“We welcome the establishment of broadband officers for each local authority and that their brief includes mobile coverage; although in many places, they are not stand alone roles. The key for these positions to work is the availability of information. There is a reliance on data from private companies to identify blackspots. It is important that information is given so that the size of the problem many people are faced with across the State is fully understood.

“The scale of the problem in communications in this State is immense and we still have not identified the true number of blackspots. It is one of the major issues affecting quality of life and jobs growth.  Without effective communications, there will be a difficult future for rural Ireland.” 

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Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has welcomed broad and enthusiastic support from key legal experts in the area of Multi Party Actions.

He was speaking following the Bill being discussed at the Justice Committee, where the Bill completed pre-committee Scrutiny. 

He called upon the Government to ensure it is allowed to Committee stage, to ensure that it can become law.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“I am very pleased and encouraged with the support this Bill has received, From Dr Joanne Blennerhassett of UCD, from Eilis Barry and Paul Joyce from the Free Legal Advice Centre, and from David Coleman of Coleman Partners, as well as from my colleagues on the Justice Committee.

“It supports our view that this legislation can be a game changer, in giving people access to Justice, particularly those who have been subjected to gross injustices, and have not been able to take an action, because they simply cannot afford it.

"We are far behind comparable jurisdictions in not having an avenue to Justice like this.

"This Legislation offers a Radical Reform which can make a considerable difference to people’s ability to take cases, as a whole class of people and will embolden many to become part of an action, where previously the fear of costs may have intimidated them.

"According to Dr Blennerhassett, 'Multi Party Actions, by enabling victims of mass harm to combine their legal actions, can be a key tool in achieving access to justice. It gives victims strength in numbers and allows them to pool their resources as often they are faced with David versus Goliath type scenarios. 

"The Multi Party Action Bill aims to reduce the costs of litigation, make better use of court resources and improve access to the courts in these cases.

"Similarly FLAC welcomed the Bill 'as a tool in achieving the overall objectives of expanding access to justice, procedural efficiency and fairness. 

"The Bill, if enacted, can enable litigants to overcome some of the many impediments facing citizens who take legal actions individually. 

"Mr Colemans evidence, from his experience of cases currently, underlined how badly such a piece of legislation is needed.

"We want to give those affected by this and other injustices, the tools to take on the Banks, or any other such institution, body or individual.

“There is, I believe, a consensus emerging around the need for this legislation. Government needs to recognise that, and work with the Bill, not against it.

"It is urgently needed, and I urge the Government now to allow it to move through the houses, and not to block it at committee stage."

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This afternoon at Leaders' Questions, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly TD called on the Taoiseach to introduce a statutory ‘duty of candour’ in order to ensure that there is truth and honesty in the aftermath of a mistake in the health system.

Speaking about the case of Alison McCormack covered in last night’s RTÉ Investigates programme Teachta O’Reilly said:

“People should feel safe in our hospitals, they should be sure that they are getting the right care and the best possible care. They should be able to trust the advice of medical professionals and rest assured that the advice given is in their best interest.

“They should also be confident that when a mistake has been made and medical professionals and hospitals or other health institutions become aware of it, that they will be informed and all will be done to rectify the situation.

“That is what should naturally happen in a well-run health service.

“However, that this did not happen in the case of Alison McCormack is incredibly worrying.

“Compassion and honesty should be evident at all levels of the health service, and even more so at the higher institutional levels of our hospitals and the HSE.

“Nobody is saying that a health service will be without human error. But when a mistake is made there should be an apology and the relevant parties informed.

“Patients are at a disadvantage when an error occurs – what we saw last night was the system circling the wagons, and wilfully withholding information from a patient.

“We cannot allow this to keep happening and I believe the best way to address this situation is to have a legal ‘duty of candour’ to make it mandatory for health professionals to disclose information when mistakes have been made.

“Minister Varadkar, who did a u-turn as Minister for Health to not make it mandatory for open disclosure and he seems to think the current situation is suitable, but I fundamentally disagree. The practice of keeping quiet when things go wrong is so prevalent in our medical culture that only a statutory ‘duty of candour’ will address the situation.

“We need to try to create a culture of openness and honesty, especially at the higher levels of our hospitals and the HSE and we also need to support staff and ensure that honesty, openness, and transparency are integral to healthcare provision."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Maurice Quinlivan TD, today criticised the government for kicking the can of ticket touting down the road again, as the Sinn Féin 'Sale of Tickets Bill' faces further delays. 

Speaking today Deputy Quinlivan said;

“In May 2017, Sinn Féin’s anti-ticket touting legislation came for second stage debate. The government then put down an amendment to delay the progress of this bill by nine months for no reason whatsoever.

“These nine months have now expired and yesterday I moved a motion in the Dáil to refer the Sale of Tickets Bill to the Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation for third stage debate.

“This morning I received news that my bill will now be referred for a money message, a method employed by Taoiseach Varadkar to stop opposition bills in their tracks, which essentially kills opposition bills. 

“Today my colleague Pearse Doherty TD highlighted that there are currently 28 ​such bills waiting for money messages, and the real agenda here is not to question whether there will be a cost to the state, but rather to stop opposition bills progressing any further.

“Today I have also become aware that the government is now considering supporting a brand new anti-ticket touting bill, further delaying the process, and ensuring this problem of ticket touting continues for the foreseeable future. 

“Ticket touting is an attack on consumer’s rights and it deserves to be addressed immediately. People are rightly fed up getting ripped off by touts when they are trying to buy tickets for a match or concert.

“Unfortunately this government is more concerned with ensuring every Bill that passes through the Oireachtas has a Fine Gael stamp on it rather than on solving actual problems.

“Personally I do not care whose name is on the ticket touting bill, once the problem is stamped out once and for all.”

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Young people have a stake in society and should be able to exercise the right to vote at 16, Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said.

Addressing the NUS-USI Further Education Conference in Belfast today, the East Derry MLA said the Scottish referendum had proved that younger voices make a positive contribution to political debate.

“During the Scottish Independence Referendum the vote was extended to 16 and 17-year-olds,” she commented.

“Eighty percent of 16 and 17 year olds registered and 75 per cent turned out to vote.

“Sinn Fein strongly believe that extending franchise to 16 years would be positive democratically and encourage young people to engage politically. 

“Young people should not be forced to depend on older voters to represent their distinct interests and varied values.

“Votes at 16 would close the gap between political representatives and the younger electorate, laying the foundations for political engagement throughout their lives at a younger age. 

“Young people have a stake in society and are significantly and directly affected by the policies and decisions of political parties.  Young people deserve to have a say in the future of the society that they will live in.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said there can be no rolling back from what was agreed in the December communique between the British government and the EU and that it must be turned into a legally binding document. 

Martina Anderson said: 

"Since the agreement between the British government and the EU in December the Tories have been trying to renege on and resile from what was agreed. 

"That is why it is vitally important that what was contained in the communique is written into a legally binding treaty in its entirety as soon as possible. 

"Now we have reports that the backstop that would ensure there was no regulatory divergence across the island of Ireland will not be written into the Withdrawal Agreement but included as a protocol. 

"This was the backstop described by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a 'bullletproof' and 'cast iron' guarantee. If he is serious about that then he and his government must ensure it is included in the treaty currently being drafted. 

"It needs to be included in the Withdrawal Agreement and we need to see action and not just words from An Taoiseach in order to safeguard the rights of people in the north. 

"We cannot allow any regression of rights and the British government cannot be allowed to role back on commitments made."

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on rural and community affairs Carol Nolan TD said she is ‘shocked’ to find out that only 0.3% of the LEADER Programme 2014 has been spent since the commencement of the Programme.

Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Kenny answered a question submitted by Deputy Carol Nolan spokesperson on Rural Development.

Teachta Kenny said;

"Minister Ring was asked for an update on the status of the current LEADER Programme funding and to indicate how the programme was performing in comparison to the previous programme.  

“It was confirmed that the programme has only paid out €661,844 or 0.3% of the €250 million European Fund, as compared with 4.4% of a €400m fund paid during the same 18month period of the previous programme.

"The LEADER programme spans for seven-years, which was intended to run from 2014 to Dec 2020. However, the programme did not in fact become operational until July 2016, which has reduced the delivery time to 4.5yrs.”

The question was submitted by Deputy Nolan amid widespread anecdotes that the application process of the current programme is substantially more bureaucratic and cumbersome than before and has militated against project promoters applying for grants and project developers drawing down funds.

Deputy Nolan said;

“I submitted the Parliamentary Question to Minister Ring because I heard first hand that there was a problem.

“At a time when Exchequer receipts were at an all-time low, an unspent European fund of €250 million is scandalous. The LEADER fund is, in effect, a Dormant Account.

“The significant change in delivery of this Programme compared to all previous programmes since LEADER I back in 1991, is that this Programme is now being operated by the Local Authorities.

“For more than two decades the LEADER programme was delivered by autonomous LAGS and was remarkable in its efficiency and performance record.

“We are gravely concerned as to whether the LEADER programme can attain 100% spend by 2020 and have indicated that there are still many unanswered questions.

“I will be seeking further insight into the spatial distribution of payments and my colleague Deputy Martin Kenny indicated that he would like an account of the performance of the Programme in the Border Counties.

“I will also be seeking an outline of the Department’s strategy to ensure that every cent of the €200m project fund is paid out to rural communities.

“Finally, I will be asking what measures the Department is putting in place to ensure that none of this fund is de-committed, and utilised to the fullest extent.”

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has challenged the recent attacks on the Good Friday Agreement from Brexiteers in England.

"Since 1998 the Good Friday Agreement has been under continuous attack from those within political unionism who remain opposed to the architecture and spirit of the Agreement.

"They have been persistent in their attempts to undermine the GFA and prevent its full implementation.

"The political crisis which has existed since December 2016 is the culmination of almost 20 years of kick back against the GFA from within political unionism.

"The reckless and highly irresponsible comments from some Brexit extremists in England exposes their own shallow and selfish disregard for the Irish peace process. Their interventions amount to a wrecker’s charter against the GFA and have the potential to further exacerbate the political crisis in the north.

"Instead of giving cover to those within political unionism who want to destroy the Agreement these opportunists would be better served addressing the mess that their extreme Brexit views has imposed on their own constituents in England.

"In the absence of political agreement on the reestablishment of power sharing and partnership institutions the two governments should move decisively to ensure full implementation of the GFA.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for urgent humanitarian action in response to increased bombing in Syria in recent days. 

Martina Anderson said: 

"The recent increase in bombing in Eastern Ghouta in Syria in recent days has led to a terrible humanitarian crisis. 

"Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have been bombed in what leading international human rights organisations are calling a clear war crime. 

"At least 250 people have been killed in the constant aerial bombing and the area is being devastated. 

"There is an urgent responsibility on the international community and the EU in particular to act to address the huge humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta. 

"There is also a need to intensify efforts to find a lasting solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria through dialogue and negotiation." 

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused the government of “failing young people in need of mental health supports”.

The Louth TD revealed that in the Community Healthcare Organisation Area 8, which covers Laois/Offaly, Longford/Westmeath and Louth/Meath, “the number of staff required to meet the Vision for Change recommendations is just over 60% of the number identified”.

Teachta Adams said:

“There are 172,373 young people between the ages of 0-18 living in CHO8. This region has the greatest number of young people in the state. Despite that, this region only has 94.4 whole time equivalents in post or 60% of the number recommended in Vision for Change - the strategy document which sets out the direction for Mental Health Services. That report recommended that CHO8 required 151.7 whole time equivalents.

“Last June, as a result of work by my colleague Louise O’Reilly TD which revealed that CAMHS teams were operating with just 53% of the staff necessary under a ‘A Vision for Change’. There were promises made by government that this disastrous staffing gap would be addressed.

“This was especially true after the Seanad Public Consultation Committee Report on Children’s Mental Health Services found that the increase in mental health problems and in child population had not been matched by an increase in services. 

“However, we now know that CAMHS teams across the state are on average only at 56.1% of the total staff needed.

“While Louth/East Meath, which is part of CHO8, is slightly better off at 62%, the CAMHS teams are dealing with a greater number of young people and the availability of staff is still a matter of serious concern.

“Last week, the Children’s Rights Alliance published its annual report. According to the Alliance, ‘there were 6,811 children under the age of 17 waiting for a community-based psychology appointment at the end of July 2017; a third had been waiting over a year. 394 Children aged five to 17 make up 80 per cent of people waiting for an appointment nationwide.’

“This is a disgraceful consequence of government failure to investment properly in mental health services. Children who need mental health supports are not getting it. ‘A Vision for Change’ recommends that youth mental health services be fully staffed at 1,047 whole time equivalent staff.” 

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has today written to the Finance Committee requesting that an invitation be sent to Permanent TSB asking the bank to attend the Committee next week regarding their threatened sale of a loan book.

Deputy Doherty said:

“I have written to the Clerk of the Committee this morning asking that PTSB be called in as soon as possible. There is massive public concern at their proposal to sell thousands of mortgages.

The Committee should be given the chance to express that concern. PTSB have an obligation to answer questions from TDs and Senators being contacted by concerned homeowners, all the more so as this is a bank owned by the people.

I hope all members of the Committee can support my call and that such a meeting can take place as soon as possible.”

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