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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Padraig Mac Lochlainn has described as “disgraceful” the comments from a Labour Party councillor in relation to the Gaza aid flotilla which includes the Irish ship MV Saoirse.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs must clarify his party’s position on Gaza and on the safe passage of the flotilla.

Speaking from Donegal Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“The comments from Labour Party councillor Richard Humphreys are shocking and could have been lifted word for word from an Israeli government press statement.

“I am especially shocked at this reaction considering only last year the councillor’s party colleague Joe Costello TD rightly condemned the Israeli attack on the previous aid convoy which saw violent reactions from the Israeli Defence Forces resulting in loss of life.

“Councillor Humphreys’ comments are utterly disgraceful and I call on the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs to make his and his party’s position on the aid flotilla clear.

“This second flotilla should be allowed safe travel and the Government here should be speaking to the Israeli authorities to ensure that they get it.

“Furthermore, the Government should be doing all in its power to end the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people there including calling for an end to the preferential trade agreement between the EU and Israel until such time as the siege is lifted.”

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Fine Gael/Labour Government values patients in our public health system less than senior bank bond-holders. He was responding to the instruction from Health Minister James Reilly to the HSE that hospitals must ‘scale back activities’ in 2011 and to the announced loss of 24-hour emergency services at Roscommon Hospital.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Health Minister James Reilly’s instruction to the HSE that hospitals must scale back activities in 2011 to remain within their allocated budgets is a recipe for further misery in our health services.

“Already public hospitals are over-stretched due to cutbacks. The Minister now wants to impose further cuts. The Minister’s reference to hospitals ‘crying for help’ and ‘putting the hand out’ at the end of the year is insulting to long-suffering patients and to hard-pressed staff alike. The Taoiseach’s confirmation that Roscommon Hospital is to lose 24-hour A&E services from 1 July is a further blow.

“The Minister’s much trumpeted ‘Special Delivery Unit’ to address the crisis in A&E departments is not even up and running yet. We have yet to see any further detail, let alone legislation, on the Minister’s promised health service reform, including insurance-based funding and ‘money follows the patient’. Yet hospitals are still expected to continue to operate strictly on lower budgets and within a funding system which the Minister himself admits does not work.

“This Government has refused to ‘burn’ senior bank bond-holders – it values them more than it values people who depend on our health services. The Minister states in his letter to the HSE that the hospitals are responsible for a deficit of €100 million. But on 1 April this year the Government handed over €24 billion to the banks.

“Sinn Féin will stand with communities in opposing savage health cuts and we will continue to put forward a better fairer way to address the economic recession and the healthcare crisis.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Phil Flanagan has welcomed the launch of a public consultation in the potential for extending the natural gas network across other parts of the north, including the towns of Dungannon, Cookstown, Magherafelt, Strabane, Omagh and Enniskillen.

 

Mr Flanagan said:

 

“As Sinn Féin’s Energy Spokesperson and as an MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, I would warmly welcome this public consultation on the potential expansion of the natural gas network.

 

“For too long, people in the west have been over-reliant on other forms of energy to heat their homes; the cost of home heating oil has soared in recent times and people are no longer able to afford it, this has been made all the worse by a lack of viable competition in many areas.

 

“This has been further compounded by a falling availability of turf in many areas as well as many people, particularly, elderly people, unable to handle bulky bags of coal.

 

“Any expansion to the gas network can only help alleviate much of these problems and play a small part in tackling the problem of fuel poverty.

 

“I would urge members of the public to respond to this consultation and make their feelings known.

 

"This expansion will only happen if there is a willingness from the public at large to connect to a natural gas supply.”

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Sinn Féin Mid-Ulster MLA Francie Molloy has welcomed his DUP Constituency Colleague, Ian McCrea's new found interest in Gaelic games and in particular the fortunes of teams with Mid-Ulster connections.

Francie Molloy said:

"It is good to see Ian declare his interest in the outcome of the Ulster GAA Championship. Perhaps Ian's hope that Donegal are victorious in the Ulster final is a vote of solidarity with his many Party Colleagues in Derry and elsewhere with Donegal birth rights and who will no doubt be quietly hoping Ian gets his wish.

Whatever sparked his interest and regardless of which team Ian will be pulling for in the Ulster final it is to be welcomed and you never know he might even some day attend the final in person and actually enjoy himself.

"But on a more serious note it's about time that Ian McCrea and those who think like him wakes up to the reality that Gaelic games attract more participants and supporters than any other sport in Ireland and many professional sporting organisations only dream of attracting the numbers that pass through the turnstiles at GAA facilities.

Mr. McCrea's churlish comments about the cost of civic receptions for victorious teams should be dismissed for the begrudging attitude it displays - i.e. anything that doesn't fit in with my culture should not be celebrated. And GAA supporters are rate payers too and there are more of them in Mid-Ulster than there are DUP supporters.

"I believe that the GAA through its involvement in local communities throughout Ireland including Mid-Ulster contributes far more to the social and economic life of society than any other organisation on the island.

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Bairbre de Brun attended a meeting with EU Regional Development Commissioner Johannes Hahn, and representatives of the five Cross Border Groups.

Speaking after the meeting, de Brun said:

" At a meeting with a meeting with EU Regional Development Commissioner Johannes Hahn, and representatives of the five Cross Border Groups today, we stressed the importance of continued investment in cross-border work

"The Cross Border corridor groups outlined the success that cross- border work in Ireland has brought and the changes it has helped bring about since the first cross border group was established in the 1970s.

"The Cross- border groups thanked Commissioner Hahn for the considerable added value that the Interreg programmes have brought to both economic development and to peace and reconciliation.

"The groups stressed the need for a mix of strategic and local approaches. They also pledged their commitment to giving something back to Europe by way of our conflict resolution and cross border economic development expertise."

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Speaking in response to comments by the Minister for Public Finance Brendan Howlin over the weekend on the future of the controversial Universal Social Charge, Sinn Fein Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has called on the government ‘to come clean’ on the future of the charge.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The Universal Social Charge was one of the most controversial decisions of the Fianna Fail government. It is a regressive measure disproportionately affecting those on low incomes.

“People earning as little as €77 per week must pay this charge. Indeed someone earning €100,000 a year is charged at the same rate as someone earning €16,016. Low income workers, including medical card holders, working lone parents and working widows, who were exempt from the health and income levies must pay the charge.

“Labour and Fine Gael opposed the introduction of the USC in January of this year. During the general election campaign Labour promised to “ease the impact of the USC for those most adversely affected.’

“The Programme for Government has a clear commitment to review the charge.

“However, from comments made by Minister Howlin at the weekend it appears that the Government is abandoning both its pre-election and Programme for Government commitments.

“I have submitted questions to the Minister for Finance this morning asking him if the Government intends to proceed with the promised review of the USC and if so under what terms of reference and within what time frame. It is time for the Government to come clean on the future of the USC.”

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In his opening remarks he referred to Cork as the birthplace of “social reformers, activists and rebels” citing O'Donovan Rossa and William Thompson as two examples.
Ann Piggot, a teacher who is president of Cork Council of Trades Unions spoke of a united Ireland being like “an illusive dream” but pointed to “more similarities than we realise” and the fact that physical barriers and imaginary borders were ignored by sporting, artistic and cultural organisations. She focused on the plight of workers in the recession and to the contact and co-operation between workers organisations in the ICTU. “Justice and unity are within our grasp,” she said.
Barney O'Reilly, former CEO of Kerry VEC focused on the education system, founded in 1831 and which to this day is called “a national school system” it was based on religious diversity at the beginning. As time passed, he said, “separation was the best we could do to manage diversity” with the VEC's being “a small bridgehead in a denominational system”.
He called for a system based, like in the French Revolution on equality, liberty and fraternity, which translated in the 21st century into “equality, freedom and mutual interdependence”, he said.
The Sinn Féin president was also joined on the platform in Cork City Hall by broadcasting legend Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Ruaidhri Deasy former IFA deputy leader.
The audience of over 400 joined enthusiastically in the discussion when it was open to the floor on two occasions during the evening.

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Sinn Fein Councillor Micheal Mac Donncha called on all groups on the Council to co-operate to elect mayors from each group in rotation for the remaining term of the Council. He said:
“It is long past time that Dublin City Council adopted best practice in the election of Mayor. At present a deal between Labour and Fine Gael sees them monopolise the position of Mayor of Dublin and if this continues no member from any other group on the Council will have the opportunity to hold the position until the next local elections in 2014.
“Other councils in this State operate a much fairer practice where the mayor or cathaoirleach of the council is elected by agreement and each group is allocated fair representation over the five year term of the Council.
“We will be urging Dublin City Council to adopt this best practice from this year and for the remaining term of the Council.
“We will be nominating Councillor Larry O’Toole for the position of Mayor of Dublin. Larry would make an excellent Mayor. He is an extremely dedicated and diligent Councillor, one of the longest serving on the Council, first elected in 1999. He was won the respect of Councillors on all sides of the Council and of Council staff at all levels.
“Above all Cllr. Larry O’Toole is a tireless worker for the communities he represents. Sinn Fein is proud to nominate him for the position of first citizen of Dublin City.”


Profile of Cllr. Larry O’Toole
Cllr. Larry O’Toole has been a member of Dublin City Council for the Artane electoral area since 1999. In the 2004 and 2009 local elections he was among the highest polling candidates in the State. He has lived in Darndale on Dublin’s northside since 1974. Larry joined Sinn Fein in 1984. He was a trade union activist in the Gateaux factory in Finglas where he led a prolonged strike in 1990. During that strike RTE refused to interview him, claiming spuriously that his membership of Sinn Fein barred him under Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act even though he would have been interviewed in his trade union capacity. Larry successfully challenged this in the High Court which ruled in his favour. This paved the way for removal of broadcasting ban on Sinn Fein.

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The Sinn Féin leader attended an information meeting organised by SOSAD in Drogheda today during which the group outlined the growing scale of the problem.
Speaking afterward Deputy Adams called for SOSAD to receive government funding. He said:
“It is thought that the number of people who died through suicide in 2009 in this state could be as high as 700. There is also a significant increase in the number of people who are deliberately self-harming.
Between 2007 and 2009 the number of deliberate self-harm (DSH) cases rose by 23 per cent in men and 13 per cent in women.In 2009 there were 11,966 cases.
It is widely accepted that the current economic recession has played a major part in the increased number of people dying through suicide or who are self-harming.
One speaker for SOSAD at the Drogheda event warned that there has not been the usual summer drop-off in calls for help to their offices.
While suicide is now better understood than before, the fact remains that there is not sufficient funding for dealing with mental health issues.
All of the speakers today expressed anger at the refusal of the government to fund SOSAD. It was also accepted that the current suicide prevention strategy is not robust enough.
Suicide kills more people in this state than road accidents but tackling it does not receive the same priority from government.
This is an example of the failure of the health system to properly manage and resource this vitally important issue.
One way of tackling suicide and self-harm, particularly at a time of recession, would be to provide for greater co-operation between the health services north and south.
The creation of a national – all-Ireland – Suicide Prevention Agency that brings together all of those bodies and strategies involved in this issue, and has effective and dedicated funding and resourcing, would also make a major contribution to reducing the numbers who die each year.

ends

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Lynn Boylan MEP