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Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has opened the 4th Kennedy Centre Tastefest by addressing a group of local business and community leaders as part of the annual Féile an Phobail in West Belfast.

Each year since 2006 the Kennedy Centre hosts the Tastefest along with Curley’s Supermarkets and more recently Sainsbury’s, who have acquired the Curley’s business.

Over 40 food and drink exhibitors, from all over Ireland, will participate in cookery demonstrations and offer food sampling to the public visiting the Centre over the two days of 7-8 August.

Speaking at the breakfast launch, the Minister said: “The opportunity provided by Tastefest for farm-based diversifiers and small enterprises to exhibit alongside our larger processors, who operate in the global marketplace, is almost unique. As well as offering networking opportunities for the suppliers, the festival also allows a face to face interaction between consumers and suppliers which is rarely available these days.

“Curley’s Supermarkets have been at the backbone of local retailing in the community over the last forty years and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Kennedy family for their support of local producers throughout that time.”

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Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on Housing Fra McCann has welcomed the new protocol for courts dealing with home repossessions and said it is the best way forward for the courts in the absence of any Mortgage Relief Scheme for DSD.

Speaking today Mr McCann said:

“The new protocol for dealing with home repossessions which are brought before the courts is to be welcomed and is good news for those faced with the possibility of losing their homes.

“To see that lenders must also demonstrate that there is no other means of resolving the difficulties that borrowers are facing in relation to their mortgages is the best way forward in the absence of a Mortgage Rescue Scheme that was promised as long ago as February 2008 by the Minister for Social Development.

“Given the economic downturn and the crash in the housing market many people have found themselves out of their depth in terms of keeping up with their mortgage and as a result have faced the trauma of repossession.

“The figures show that over the last year home repossessions, as a result of mortgage defaults, have increased on a massive scale. I urge anyone facing financial difficulties to seek advice form bodies such as the Housing Rights Service or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.”

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The Veterinary Service in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is investigating a case in which it believes a brucellosis reactor animal was moved illegally from a farm and another animal substituted.

Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA said: “DARD is currently investigating an incident where we believe we have evidence that a brucellosis reactor, a dun Charolais-type cow, giving an extremely high reaction to the BR test, has been moved illegally from a farm, with another animal being substituted. As this incident is presently under investigation I am not in position to give any further details. However, such is the potential seriousness of the implications for the disease status of other herds, it is important that livestock farmers are aware of this situation.”

The Minister went on to say: “This is an extremely serious matter and our actions in alerting herdowners to it are an indication of our concern. While I do not wish to pre-empt the conclusion of ongoing investigations, we will push for the maximum penalties for anyone found guilty of such actions. DARD will be making full use of recent technologies, including DNA and strain typing, for investigation of this incident and any subsequent disease outbreaks.”

“Brucellosis has the capacity for explosive spread in particular circumstances. Should the suspected action in this case lead to further herd breakdowns it could significantly hinder, and possibly reverse, the excellent progress that the Industry has made in brucellosis eradication in the last year. The incidence of brucellosis in cattle herds has halved from approximately 1% in Sept 2008, to 0.5% in June 2009 with a consequent reduction in compensation costs for slaughtered cattle from over £7million in 2007/8, to less than £4million in 2008/09.

“If there is subsequent secondary spread to neighbours, the effect within an area could be long-lasting. The benefit of disease eradication for the many herdowners who have co-operated fully with DARD’s disease eradication programme and been part of that success, could be undermined by the deplorable and inexcusable actions of a few.”

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In an interview on BBC radio on Wednesday morning the Sinn Féin President and west Belfast MP Gerry Adams criticized and challenged the PPS handling of the Harry Holland murder case and the role of the PPS and its predecessor the DPP in the administration of justice in the north.

Yesterday the current Director of the PPS and Director of Public Prosecutions Alistair Frazier subsequently described Mr. Adams comments as ‘unworthy and wrong.’

Responding this morning Mr. Adams said: 

“I stand over my remarks concerning the PPS.

 I made it clear in my interview that I knew that there are good, decent people working within the PPS who are doing their best. I am also sure that there are those who are about reforming the system.

But the handling of the Harry Holland murder case by the PPS and the secret deal done in respect of two of the accused, which sparked the PPS statement, was shameful.

No acceptable or believable reason has been provided to explain, excuse or apologise for that.

Contrary to Alistair Fraser’s claim that the organisation which he leads has served the community in a consistently fair way, during the period of the conflict the Office of the DPP was directly involved in decisions which covered-up state murder; sought to hide evidence of collusion by the state forces and unionist death squads, and protected members of the RUC and British Armed Forces from prosecution for their involvement in torture and murder.

It is in the public interest that these issues are dealt with. I would welcome the opportunity to hear Mr. Fraser’s explanation for the decisions he made or authorized in the Harry Holland murder case, or indeed in any case during the conflict in which he may have been involved.

I am calling on him to discuss these matters in public and in the open with me and the people of west Belfast.”

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Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has said there is nothing new in recent comments from Jim Allister and that his agenda is to take us back to a past where unionist domination and discrimination existed.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Jim Allister needs to understand that we have made real progress over recent years built on the recognition that a partnership of equals is the only way forward. He also needs to realise that there is no going back to the unionist domination and discrimination of the past.

"Whether Jim or any other rejectionist unionist likes it or not the reality is that power sharing is at the heart of the political progress we have made and fantasies about a return to unionist majority mis-rule are delusional." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has announced the timetable for payments to farmers over the coming year.

Outlining the timetable plans, the Minister said:

“I recognise the current financial difficulties that our farmers face and their reliance on Single Farm Payments (SFP) and I have been examining the scope that we have to bring payments forward as much as possible.

“In 2008 we paid out 80% of SFP claims by the end of December and we hope to do as well this year, as soon as the eligibility inspections are completed. For the second year in a row, we hope to pay Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowances (LFACA) early, possibly from January 2010 onwards. Additional LFACA payments for the 2007-2009 scheme years, to account for currency exchange rate movements, are also being finalised.”

The Minister added:

“Whilst the recent EU announcement that part payments of SFP will be possible is good news, their decision came too late in the year for us to take advantage. Primarily because we must still ensure that all eligibility inspections are completed before we can make payments. As my inspectors are all currently fully committed, it is not a realistic option to complete these inspections any earlier. In the meantime we are also working hard to complete the FNMS Inspections and get those payments out too.”

Looking forward to next year she said:

“I can now confirm that both the Countryside Management and the Organic Farming Schemes will open for new applications again in early 2010.”

The Minister concluded: “My goal is to achieve successful payment of all monies due to our farmers as quickly as practically possible. In light of this year’s timetable implications, I believe our approach to making 100% of SFP and LFACA payments is a better approach than trying to make part payments at this late stage.

“I have also asked my officials to consider carefully any future opportunities that may arise which offer any permissible relaxations in the rules, and we will work with UFU and NIAPA to see what more can be done.”

Note to Editors

  1. Each year, the department pays out £250million in single farm payments, another £21million in Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances (LFACA), and £24.5million in Agri-environment Schemes.This year, it has also paid out over £100million out of the £122million claimed under the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme.
  2. DARD receives regular visits from both the Commission and the European Court of Auditors.These visits are to satisfy the European Parliament that the rules of the various subsidy schemes are being complied with and that beneficiaries receive their correct financial entitlement. Following an audit of SFP and other area aid claims for 2004, 2005 and 2006 the European Commission propose to disallow £28.5million of the north’s claim for reimbursement.
  3. The Department is seeking Commission approval to modify the LFA measure in the NIRDP to take account of the sterling rate envisaged when the NIRDP was approved. Exchange rate changes since 2007 have produced modest gains for many farmers. Details of individual amounts of exchange rate gains and interest due are being finalised.

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Sinn Féin Policing Board member Alex Maskey MLA has welcomed the vote taken by the Policing Board today for the disposal of 26 Police Stations across the North.

Mr Maskey said:

“This is a victory for common sense. Arguments being put forward that we should continue to see money from the policing budget wasted on unused police stations were in the end unsustainable.

“What we need to focus on now is how we deliver the policing service that people are entitled to. What we need is to maximise the resources available to deliver good quality policing. 

“I made it clear to the PSNI today that Sinn Féin’s primary concern is for the PSNI to take account of the needs and concerns of local communities. This means the PSNI must deliver effective strategies for tackling anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, hate crime, burglary and car crime and ensuring that people feel safe in their communities.

“Sinn Féin will also continue to try and ensure that the disposal of these assets is in the interests of local communities either by utilising the land for local benefit or for any money generated to be retained locally.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has said the Tánaiste Mary Coughlan is all talk and very little action on job creation and retention. Deputy Morgan criticised the Tánaiste for ‘grabbing headlines’ today after she announced details of a Government job retention scheme for the second time in six weeks.

Speaking today Deputy Morgan said, “The Government already launched this plan in June. This plan is about a year too late. We need to see action on job creation and retention and the Government should get on with that rather than grabbing headlines with the announcement of plans which have already been launched.

“Unfortunately the Tánaiste is all talk and very little action on this issue. If the Government had paid more attention to our growing unemployment crisis rather than fixating itself on bailing out the banks and their developer friends over the course of this economic recession then we could now have been on the road to recovery. In that context Sinn Féin welcomes this plan albeit belatedly.

“However, the plan that has been announced by the Government is too narrow in scope in that it only applies to qualifying exporting enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sectors. It completely ignores the plight of workers in other industries.

“We also feel that the fund allocated to this job retention plan could be increased to €300 million in order to save approximately 90,000 jobs over the course of six months.” ENDS

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East Belfast Sinn Féin representative Niall Ó Donnghaile has welcomed today’s decision by the Policing Board to close and dispose of Mountpottinger PSNI barracks.

Speaking after today’s announcement Niall Ó Donnghaile said,
“I would wholeheartedly welcome today’s decision by the Policing Board. Sinn Féin and the local community have long campaigned for the removal of Mountpottinger barracks.

"This barracks only functions on a part-time basis and costs around £180,000 annually to retain. In addition, in the year between July 2007 and July 2008 it was used by only 16 members of the public. This barracks is clearly a drain on the PSNI’s resources, resources which could be better used in tackling crime in the East Belfast area.

"The PSNI’s own consultation on the future of the barracks received 907 submissions calling for the removal of this barracks as opposed to 4 submissions calling for its retention.

"For those who live in the immediate vicinity of this barracks, almost 1,000 of whom signed a petition calling for its removal, Mountpottinger barracks is a symbol of all that was wrong with policing in the North of Ireland. From the 1970's when Albert 'Ginger' Baker admitted that he was supplied weapons by the desk sergeant at the barracks to kill local nationalists for the UDA right up to the siege of the area in 2002 when the PSNI stood by while the area came under loyalist attack.”

He concluded,
“This decision is a victory for the Short Strand community. It could not have been achieved without the hard work and support of the local community. However, much remains to be done and we must now ensure that the local community benefit fully from this closure. This means that the money which was being wasted on maintaining this barracks must be diverted into front-line policing services to deliver an up to date and effective policing service for local communities in East Belfast. I would also call upon the Department of Social Development to earmark the barracks site as a potential area for social and community development to ensure maximum benefit for the people of this area.” CRÍOCH

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Sinn Fein Assembly Chief Whip Carál Ní Chuilín has announced changes to theSinn Féin line up in a number of Assembly committees.

 

Ms Ni Chuilín said;

 

“Sinn Féin has reshuffled the deck in terms of a number of committee places and Chairs and Vice Chairs of Assembly committees.

 

“Mitchel McLaughlin will be standing down as Chair of the Finance and Personnel committee, Mitchel will remain as Sinn Féin Economy and Finance spokesperson and will be now be able to enter and shape the economic debate without the restriction of Chair of a committee restricting his input.

 

“West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann will take over as Chair of the Finance Committee and will continue to bring a grass roots perspective to the work of the finance committee and a realisation that Budget decisions in the Assembly have a direct effect on the budget of every family household.

 

“As result of Ms Mc Cann’s move to Chair of Financeshe will stand down as Vice Chair of the Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee and will be replaced by Lagan Valley MLA Paul Butler who will bring his wide range of experience in Equality and the need for Government to use its resources to tackle deprivation to the post.

 

“Mr Butlers move to a Vice Chairs position will mean he has to stand down as amember of the Assembly commission and will be replaced by West Tyrone MLA Pat Doherty who will continue with Sinn Féins Equality agenda within the commission.

 

Concluding Ms Ní Chuilín said

 

“The reshuffle will be confirmed at the first available meeting of the Assembly on its return in September and will strengthen Sinn Féins ability to deliver change across a wide range of socio economic issues in the months and years ahead."

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Sinn Féin west Belfast MP Gerry Adams this evening attended the annual anti-plastic bullet vigil on the Falls Road at the site of the Andersonstown RUC Barracks.

The vigil is organised by the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets.

Speaking at the event Mr. Adams praised the consistent work of the UCAPL over more than 20 years.

He said: ‘Sinn Féin’s position on Plastic Bullets is unequivocal. They should not be used under any circumstances. On the contrary they should be withdrawn from use and banned.’

Mr. Adams praised those who participated in the vigil. He said:

"For over two decades the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets has fought a courageous battle against the British state's use of plastic bullets.

“Since rubber bullets were first introduced in the early 1970s and then replaced by plastic bullets, seventeen people, 9 of them children and teenagers, have been killed by these lethal weapons.

“Thousands more have been injured, many of them scarred and disabled for life.

“This Sunday August 9th will mark the 20th anniversary of the killing of 15 year old Seamus Duffy from North Belfast. Like the others who were killed and injured no member of the RUC was ever held responsible for his death.

“The vigil is an important manifestation of the communities rejection of this weapon and the continuing demand for it to be banned.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has expressed concern at a report from the Broadcasting Commission today stating that broadcsters will no longer be obliged to provide equal airtime for both sides of the upcoming second referendum campaign on the Lisbon Treaty. Ms. McDonald said any attempt to dilute the media opportunities for either side would subvert the democratic nature of the referendum.

Speaking this evening Ms. McDonald said:

"I am alarmed at the report coming from the Broadcasting Commission today which seems to suggest that equal airtime will not be afforded to both sides of the upcoming second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. I will be seeking an urgent meeting with both the Broadcasting Commission and the Referendum Commission to seek clarification on this matter.

"Any attempt to dilute the media opportunities for either side of this debate would subvert the democratic nature of the referendum. It must be remembered that, while the majority of political parties supported the Lisbon Treaty last time round, the majority of the Irish people were opposed to it as the result of the referendum proved. So to provide equal airtime to each party rather than to each side of the debate will quite obviously provide a disproportionate and unfair advantage to the yes side.

"Any support from the Government or parties on the yes side for this type of arrangement would show that they will go to extreme lengths to avoid a full and proper debate on the content of the treaty." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has called for urgent action from the Government in response to the continued drop in the tax take.

Speaking today as the Department of Finance released its latest figures Deputy Morgan said:

“With each passing month the crisis in our public finances deepens. The fact that taxes are down €4billion since the beginning of the year highlights the need for urgent tax reform.

“The Minister is due to receive the report of the commission on taxation this month. Unfortunately that report is unlikely to be a blueprint for reforming our tax system. Like the McCarthy report it will primarily be a tool to give the government political cover for the proposals it is seeking to implement. The terms of reference for the Commission on Taxation means that the government will get the report it wants – at the core of the Commission’s work is protecting the structure of the current flawed tax system. As tax revenue plummets the commission on taxation is working within terms of reference that include keeping ‘the overall tax burden low’.

“The collapse in revenue from fair weather taxes has had a devastating impact on the tax take because other taxes were cut to unsustainable levels. Any attempt to get ordinary workers and householders to carry the burden of filling the hole in the tax take will have to be resisted. Taxes will have to be increased on those with the ability to pay – the low levels of taxes on unearned income and wealth will have to be addressed”. ENDS

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Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to urgently intervene in the HSE dispute with pharmacies before somebody becomes seriously ill or dies.

Senator Doherty said despite claims to the contrary by the HSE the reality is that the implications of this dispute are hitting patients. He said the HSE’s contingency plan is not catering for patients and a disaster was only avoided in Donegal last night by late night interventions from pharmacists who have diverted from the scheme.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said, “Minister Harney needs to urgently intervene in this dispute before somebody becomes seriously ill or even dies. She must ensure that the HSE enters into direct dialogue with the Irish Pharmacies Union (IPU) to negotiate a deal that will ensure that the delivery of medication is restored throughout the state.

“Despite HSE claims to the contrary this dispute has reached crisis level and is now directly affecting patients. The reality here in Donegal last night was that a number of people were not able to avail of life saving medication from the HSE under their contingency plan and only by late night intervention by pharmacies who have diverted from the scheme was a disaster avoided. There are also countless reports of patients having to pay for medication as they have no means of travelling to pharmacists that are still accepting the medical card.

“Rather than indulging in a high profile, and most likely expensive, media campaign the HSE should sit down with the IPU and negotiate a deal to bring this dispute to an end. The pharmacies have put forward an idea for the saving of €85 million. This is a good starting point for negotiations.” ENDS

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Transport Minister, Conor Murphy, today announced the preferred route for the proposed £113million dualling of the 14km section of the A8 between Ballyclare and Larne in Co Antrim.

The preferred route between the Coleman’s Corner roundabout near Ballyclare and the B100 Ballyrickard Road junction near Larne, is primarily an on-line improvement of the existing single carriageway road to dual carriageway, with a by-pass to the east of Bruslee, and a by-pass to the west of Ballynure.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to confirm the preferred route for this strategically important road scheme. This development, in terms of transport links, will act as a catalyst to the local economy, particularly during these uncertain financial times. Some 17,000 vehicles currently use the A8 every day, a high proportion of which are heavy goods vehicles.

"The A8 Belfast to Larne Dualling between Coleman’s Corner roundabout and the B100 Ballyrickard Road junction will improve road safety and reduce journey times, benefiting both the travelling public and the business community. The improvement will also help develop the Port of Larne, which is the second largest Port in the north.

"Selecting the preferred route has been challenging, but I believe the route chosen is a equitable balance of traffic, environmental and engineering issues, and provides an economically viable solution."

This preferred route announcement is the culmination of a thorough assessment of twelve potential corridor options for the route. The corridors were assessed against the Government’s five key objectives for transport: environment, safety, economy, accessibility and integration. Roads Service also undertook consultation exhibitions for the corridors in November 2008. This was followed by individual, one-to-one consultations with all potentially affected landowners. Consultation feedback formed an important part of the assessment process and helped inform the scheme assessment process.

Roads Service will continue to develop the design for this important road scheme in preparation for progressing the project through the necessary environmental, planning and land acquisition statutory procedures. Affected land owners and other interested parties will continue to be individually consulted as part of the process.

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Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has today visited the Fermanagh County Show in Enniskillen.

During her visit the Minister toured the trade stands, livestock judging, home industries marquee and met local farmers.

Speaking at the show, the Minister said: “The Fermanagh Show is an important date in the agricultural calendar, with a strong showing from the local rural community. Every farmer knows that when the annual visit to Fermanagh Show comes around, the show season is closing in.”

“This year I have been able to attend several local agricultural shows and yet again, all of them were of the highest standard. High quality displays, well turned out stock and good visitor numbers were much in evidence. Despite the economic difficulties, agricultural shows across the north of Ireland have put on a top quality performance. I am always heartened to see so many of the rural population coming out in force and supporting their local farmers’ efforts at these shows.

“Although 2009 has been a difficult year, I am hopeful that our agri-food sectors are robust enough to weather the current economic storm and will see light at the end of the tunnel in the next twelve months.”

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Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, has today voiced support for the organic farming sector.

The Minister emphasised the value of organic farming in response to recently published research, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which states that there are no significant differences, in respect of nutrient content and health benefits, between organic food and food produced conventionally.

Commenting on the recent debate on the benefits of the organic sector, the Minister said: “Organic farming provides many benefits, not only in terms of biodiversity and our environment, but also in terms of contributing to the quality of our landscape and the beauty of our rural areas. It is also a fact that organic production restricts the use of pesticides, which in turn requires organic farmers to spend time working with the land.”

The Minister added: “My Department currently supports organic farming across the North through the Organic Farming Scheme and the Countryside Management Scheme because we recognise the benefits that it delivers. I believe that organic farming is a real asset to our agri-food industry and that it delivers many benefits to the local food chain.

“We will continue to offer our services to all sectors, including the organic sector, and I wish to re-assure our organic farmers on this point.”

Further information on the Organic Farming Scheme and the Countryside Management Scheme can be found at:http://www.ruralni.gov.uk/index/environment/countryside_management_main/pubs/agri-environment-scheme-leaflet-and-booklets.htm

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Speaking after the press conference with the Holland family regarding the refusal of the British Attorney General refusal to review the sentences in Harry’s case or refer them to the Court of Appeal Sinn Féin party president and MP for West Belfast, Gerry Adams MLA, said:

“The British Attorney General has agreed to meet with me and the family to discuss all of the implications of this case.

“Her refusal to review the sentences in Harry’s case or refer them to the Court of Appeal and her failure to tackle the obvious and glaring shortcomings within the Public Prosecution Service is deeply disappointing for the family and for the west Belfast community.

“The family and the community are justifiably angry at the sordid secret deal that was done between the Public Prosecution Service and those who carried out the murder which led to reduced charges and minimum sentences against two of the accused.

“We are also very concerned that the British Attorney General relied solely for her decision on information supplied to her by the DPP.

“She has not questioned or investigated the behaviour and actions and judgements made by the PPS.

“It was the DPP who sent the case files and the report from a Counsel commissioned by the DPP to the British AG.

“The family were not spoken to about any of this nor were they informed of the DPP’s action.

“No one yet knows what information was in fact given to the British Attorney General and which was the basis of her decision.

“The British Attorney General has accepted without question the DPP’s view that the three people involved in this murder did not act in concert or were part of a joint enterprise.

“This despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

“The British AG also ignores the fact that the weapons used had been carried for some hours by the accused; and that together with others, they had been engaged in a series of anti-social or criminal incidents in the hours before Mr Holland was murdered.

“Harry Holland’s brutal murder left his family deeply traumatised and evoked public revulsion throughout the community, especially where he lived with his family in West Belfast.” 

 

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Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has welcomed the decision of the British Attorney General to stop extradition proceedings against a number of republicans.

Deputy Ferris said:

“Sinn Féin welcomes the decision by the British Attorney General to waive the warrants in these cases and to stop any extradition proceedings.

“This will be a relief to the men and their families.” ENDS

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Last week west Belfast MP Gerry Adams wrote to the British Attorney General Patricia Scotland, on behalf of Harry Holland’s family and raised a number of important issues, including asking her to review the sentences of the accused and refer them to the Court of Appeal.

In her reply the British Attorney General has refused to review the sentences or refer them to the Court of Appeal. She has also failed to tackle the obvious and glaring shortcomings within the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr. Adams has described the British Attorney General’s response as “inadequate and deeply disappointing for the family of Harry Holland and for the west Belfast community. The family and the community are justifiably angry at the sordid secret deal that was done between the Public Prosecution Service and those who carried out the murder which led to reduced charges and minimum sentences against two of the accused.”

The west Belfast MP said that he and the family will meet again to examine this decision and what next steps are open to the family.

He has asked for an early meeting with the British Attorney General to discuss all of the implications of the Harry Holland case, including the widely held concerns at the role of the PPS, its failure to prosecute this case properly, the ‘horse trading’ that went on between the PPS and the defence representatives, the failure to keep the Holland family involved, and the judgement which interpreted the murder as surprising and spontaneous.

Mr. Adams said:

“Like the Holland family I am deeply dissatisfied with the way this case has been handled by the Public Prosecution Service.
It was the PPS which in horse trading with the defence lawyers, agreed to reduce the charges against those accused of Harry Holland’s murder.

Then it ensured that the British Attorney General’s examination of the Holland trial was limited to the sentences imposed, and not the conduct of the prosecution.

To add insult to injury the PPS has had no communication with the Holland family since the end of the court case.
This is not acceptable behaviour.

I am also concerned at the response of the British Attorney General to this case. The decision to refuse to review the sentences was taken by her after the PPS gave her the case papers and advice from an ‘independent Senior Counsel’.
This is not the independent scrutiny that the actions of the PPS required and which the British Attorney General is responsible for.

The PPS needs to change. There needs to be a root and branch examination of how prosecution cases are conducted.

The Holland case is evidence of the overwhelming need for the transfer of policing and justice powers. Only in those circumstances is there any possibility of the PPS being made accountable for its actions. It is only with justice powers in local hands will it be possible to establish a genuinely fair, effective, and transparent criminal justice system, including with a local Attorney General.

Note to Editor:

At this time because of the failure to secure the transfer of powers on policing and justice it is the British Attorney General who has the statutory power to scrutinise the conduct of the Public Prosecution Service.

This is one example of why it is so important that these powers are transferred.

The report of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate in August 2007 on the PPS identified 40 weaknesses requiring action. The biggest criticism was the continued failure to give substantive reasons for the failure to prosecute in cases.

The Chief Inspector, Kit Chivers, when describing the PPS, said that adversarial attitudes had become ingrained from the decades of conflict. This is evident in the PPS reaction and response to the Holland family, including its failure to listen to their concerns or keep them informed of decisions it was taking in the case.

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