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Sinn Féin General Election Candidate Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said comments made by Jerry Buttimer's about the social housing crisis during last night’s Vincent Brown debate were inaccurate and amounted to an attempt to abdicate responsibility.

The Sinn Féin General Election candidate was responding to remarks made by Deputy Buttimer in the televised, where he put the blame on Cork City Council for not building Social Housing.

Councillor Ó Laoghaire said;

"The social housing crisis is an issue of great seriousness, affecting tens of thousands of people. There are between 90,000 and 130,000 households on waiting lists throughout the state, some 13,000 here in Cork alone. Over 1,500 children are in emergency accommodation, and Cork Simon and other shelters are permanently over capacity.

"Fine Gael, and Labour, have been in power for five years now, and it is not good enough that they simply make sympathetic noises towards the thousands of homeless families living in emergency accommodation; they have to take responsibility."

"They may have inherited a Housing Crisis from Fianna Fáil, but the situation now is even more drastic, and the Government has failed to make any serious intervention to tackle it. For example, in the first 6 months of 2015, only 499 social houses were build in this state, down from 4,209 in 2005.

"Deputy Buttimer is talking rubbish when blaming others for this drastic situation."

"He knows perfectly well that Cork City Council could not draw down the funds to which he was referring. They hadn't the staff or resources to do it, due to the massive cuts to local government.  It's widely known that the window of time, in which to spend that funding, is extremely and unreasonably narrow, and that his party has been responsible for stripping local authorities of the staff and vital resources necessary to put that money to work. The local authorities weren't given a real chance."

"Cork City Council is not perfect and has much room to improve the Housing Service they deliver. However, it is obvious to anyone, who wishes to examine the issue, that the main reason that Social Housing has not been built and is not being built, is due to a lack of funding from National Government.

"Deputy Buttimer, not for the first time, is trying to pass the blame on to Local Authorities. This is part of a Government strategy to distance itself from a crisis for which they are responsible, and that is very wrong.

"Furthermore, I do not believe that his Government’s Housing Strategy will succeed, it is far too dependent on meeting Social Housing need through the private market and will not increase supply by anything near what is needed.

"After a full term in office, the Government of the day have to take responsibility for the humanitarian crisis we are dealing with in housing. The people of Cork South Central will not allow Deputy Buttimer and Fine Gael, or indeed the Labour Party, to wash their hands of the Housing Crisis."

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Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has said there can be no room for sexist attitudes or language in our society. 

Ms Fearon said; 

"The use of offensive and derogatory language in relation to women is not acceptable and should be condemned.

"The sexist and abusive remarks apparently made by Jim Wells at an Assembly committee meeting last week are nothing short of contemptible. 

"This type of 'boys club' politics is out of date and should be a thing of the past. 

"Sinn Féin is committed to promoting the role of women in politics and public life and to encourage more women to take part in the democratic process at all levels. 

"Sexist remarks from public representatives do nothing to help this.

"There can be no place for sexism in our society and I would call on Jim Wells to withdraw these offensive remarks and apologise."

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said that the Fire and Resuce Service must be allowed to use life-saving defibrillators while attending emergency situations. 

The East Antrim MLA said; 

"There is no doubt that defibrillators have saved the lives of countless people across the north in recent years. 

"Many people across society have been trained in their use including paramedics, teachers, community workers, members of sporting organisations and members of the public. 

"Members of the Fire and Rescue Service, however, despite been first responders to many life-threatening emergency situations, are not currently allowed to use defibrillators in certain circumstances. 

"I have met with members of the Fire Brigades Union and they have said their members want to be able to use defibrillators when responding to emergencies in order to save lives. 

"Our firefighters carry out amazing work and save many lives each year under very challenging circumstances. They should be supported in all of their life-saving efforts. 

"I have tabled a question to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety asking for legislation to be introduced to allow firefighters to use defibrillators so more lives can be saved each year."

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Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has expressed serious concern at the proposal to construct a gold processing plant in Greencastle, which may involve the use of cyanide. 

Mr McAleer, who attended a public meeting on the issue, said; 

"People are shocked at the full extent of what is proposed and are worried about the impact the plant could have on their health and the environment. 

"As a local MLA, I share these concerns and I have tabled a question to the Minister of the Environment which will be discussed in the Assembly ‪next Monday (15th February). 

"I have also requested a meeting to discuss this issue with him. Along with party colleagues, we will also be seeking an urgent meeting with Dalradian to outline these concerns and seek answers.

"There is serious concern locally about this issue and while I welcome jobs and investment I am extremely concerned about the proposal to develop a plant in the community which may use cyanide. 

"I would call on Dalradian to suspend these plans immediately until the concerns of the local community are addressed.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin Ó Broin has described as ‘disgraceful’ a decision by the Department of Social Protection to force long term housing applicants in receipt of rent supplement onto the Housing Assistance Payment.

Cllr Ó Broin has said ‘families who have waited 9 or 10 years for a Council house will now have to wait even longer.’ He also accused the Government of ‘massaging housing list figures’ and ‘trying to introduce this deeply unfair policy after the Dáil had been suspended in the hope that it wouldn’t be noticed.’

Ó Broin continued:

“When the then Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan was introducing the Housing Assistance Payment in 2013 it caused huge controversy. The original scheme would have seen families who have waited years on the Council list moving into private rented accommodation and taken off the social housing list.

‘Strong opposition in the Dáil and within Councils forced the government to do a partial u-turn.

Families on the Council list who moved into HAP accommodation would be taken off the main Council list and moved to a HAP transfer list. While this would add years to their wait they would at least still have a chance of a permanent home.

‘When the scheme was introduced in South Dublin County Council in January 2014 the Council took a decision to direct only new applicants to the housing system onto HAP. The reason was those families who had waited 9 or 10 years on the Council list should not be forced to wait any longer as a result of taking up HAP. It was our clear understanding that these families would be left on rent supplement as they were very close to securing a Council allocation.

Ó Broin added:

"However despite this being the policy of the Council, the Department of Social Protection has this week written to families who have been on the Council list for over 9 years threatening them of withdrawing rent supplement payments if they do not transfer over to HAP.

‘This is a deeply cynical move by the Government. They are trying to introduce this unfair policy after the Dáil had been suspended in the hope that it wouldn’t be noticed.

‘They objective is very clear. If a rent supplement claimant remains in their house but transfers the payment over to HAP they will be removed from the primary housing list and the Government will claim that this list is reducing. In reality they will still be in insecure private rental accommodation and in need of social housing. This is about massaging the housing list figures, not meeting people’s real housing needs.

‘It is deeply unfair to force families who have patiently waited years on the Council list to take up HAP. I will be contacted the Council Housing Department and the Departments of Social Protection and Environment this week calling on them to reverse this deeply unfair decision. 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has reacted to Fianna Fáil’s health proposals today:

“Fianna Fáil, like the current government, remain committed to the two-tier system of health delivery that has so ill-served so many of our people over several decades. This is an affront to all who stand truly for equality and access to health service requirements on the basis of need and need alone.  

“Fianna Fáil offer no new thinking and deserve only rejection for their continuing support for inequality across our health system. 

“Clearly nothing has changed since Micheál Martin’s abysmal record as Minister for Health.”

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An EU cross-party delegation of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Palestine led by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has been blocked by the Israeli government from entering Gaza.

Martina Anderson said:

“As part of its mandate the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Palestine, which I chair, travelled to the region yesterday on a four day fact-finding mission in the West Bank and Gaza.

“But we have been informed by Israeli authorities that the Delegation will not be permitted to proceed to Gaza, and will for the fourth time in two years be denied access.

“EU support to the Palestinians amounts to 300 million euros per annum.

The purpose of the delegation’s visit is to assess the situation on the ground and the impact EU policies and assistance programmes are having on the lives of Palestinians.

“Despite stating clearly that the remit of this delegation has a purely social, economic and humanitarian focus, we continue to be blocked.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the Israeli authorities’ decision to deny this delegation access to Gaza for the fourth time.

“It is unacceptable that an official EU delegation to Palestine is refused entry to assess the humanitarian situation and the destruction in Gaza. Since the EU is the largest contributor of finance to Palestinians it is time the EU took steps to insist its delegations are allowed unhindered access to the region.

 “These blatant attempts to deter us from our responsibilities to monitor the impact of EU funding in the Region should not be allowed to go unchallenged. The European authorities must leave Israel under no illusions that there will be repercussions if it insists on blocking access to Gaza by the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Palestine. 

“If Israel thinks that blocking EU-accredited International delegations from visiting Gaza that its illegal demolitions of EU-funded structures and other acts of oppression will be hidden from the wider world then it is seriously mistaken. It will only strengthen our resolve to expose what can only be described as Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Notes: The delegation is being led by Delegation Chair Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL, Irish) and composed of 6 other Members: Margrete Auken (Vice-Chair of Delegation, Greens, Denmark), Roza Thun (EPP, Poland), Eugen Freund (S&D, Austria), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL, France), Rosa D’Amato (EFDD, Italy) and Konstantinos Papadakis (NI, Greece).

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A Sinn Féin public meeting “Making Homes a Priority- Tackling the Housing Crisis in Ireland”, held in the Farnham Arms Hotel on Monday 8th February heard that homelessness in county Cavan increased by over 500% in just 2 years. Hosted by Senator Kathryn Reilly and Councillor Eugene Greenan, the meeting was organised given the increasing representations being made in relation to housing and homelessness. 

Addressing the meeting Senator Kathryn Reilly said:

“We face social housing shortages; a crisis of homelessness; rising private property prices; increasing rents; shortages in emergency and specialty accommodation; burdensome mortgages; and a legacy of poor build quality and unsustainable planning. The idea that the market will solve everything, the key pillar on which successive government policies have rested, has been shattered by the boom and subsequent bust. 

“The social housing crisis is getting worse. The number of people on council waiting lists is rising. The length of time families have to wait on these lists is lengthening. The cost to the state of subsidising the private rent of these families is increasing.

“We have heard that there were 1,171 were on the housing waiting list and 78 vacant social houses in Cavan at the end of 2015. Coupled with this, we have seen homelessness increase from 28 in 2013 to 172 in 2015. Homelessness is not an issue reserved for urban centres like Dublin or Cork; it is very real here in Cavan.

“With property and rental costs increasing at an alarming rate in Cavan, and across the county, there is a serious possibility that even more people will become frozen out of the housing market; and as a result of the government's complete lack of social housing builds and massive social housing waiting lists, many more people are at a serious risk of ending up homeless.”

“Delivering housing cannot be slang for more subsidisation of the private market without any real increase in the social housing stock. The fact is that this government has built less social housing in its lifetime than most governments before built in a single year.”

“The housing crisis can and must be tackled, there is no short cut. The answer is obviously simple, we need to start building houses again. We need rent control and we need to ensure quality building standards. We need to stop the profiteering of banks at the cost of mortgage holders.

“All of this is possible, the resources are available, but it requires the political will. Sinn Féin has led out a plan to tackle the issue. Sinn Féin in government will deliver that plan.”

SF Plans for Cavan

“Sinn Feìin believes that the solution to the housing and homeless crisis lies in a return to large scale Local Authority building. All of our citizens have the right to a home. Quality social housing and affordable housing is essential in meeting our responsibility to all citizens.

“Sinn Féin in Government has a strategy to build 100,000 social and affordable houses by 2030 in the long-term and in the short to medium term we would build 36,500 new social and affordable homes. We would do this by investing over €5 billion in housing over the period 2016-2021; that is €2.2 billion more than the government’s commitment.

“The Government last year allocated approximately €12.5 million to Cavan for local authority housing. Under a Sinn Féin government the figure would be closer to €22 million given our larger overall national investment in the delivery of social housing.

“This scale of investment in social and affordable housing will have a positive impact on overall affordability across the state, and in Cavan.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said positive leadership is required to assist reconciliation and dealing with the past. 
Mr McGuinness said; 
"There will always be more than one narrative to any conflict. 
"There is hurt on all sides and all of us - including the media - have a responsibility to recognise that if we are to consolidate peace and build genuine reconciliation. 
"That is what I am committed to and I intend to stay positive in that work. People like myself, Arlene Foster and all politicians have a huge role to play by giving positive leadership in the work of reconciliation and coming to terms with the past."

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Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Finance, Pearse Doherty TD, has outlined how Sinn Féin would ensue a fair recovery if in Government, during the launch of the party's 2016 Election Manifesto.

Deputy Doherty said:

"This manifesto sets out ambitious plans, not just for a five-year term of government, but for the future of this State.

"The last 8 years have seen our public services hollowed out and privatised, ordinary families inflicted with the brunt of the government’s austerity policy, and our rural regions, particularly the West, suffer disproportionately from cuts and, as a result, emigration.

"The economic ideology of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil does the people of this State no service. Their failed model caused and prolonged the economic crash, using it to attack the State – socialising losses in banks, selling off assets and public services to vulture capitalist and ballooning Irish debt.

"With these parties, there will always be chaos. There will always be the auction politics and failure to plan long-term, as witnessed by Fine Gael’s plans to abolish €4 billion of the tax take, benefitting the highest earners, among them the Taoiseach, the most. 

"Sinn Féin wants a stable and balanced economy that will deliver for society. We want to move away from the boom and bust cycles perpetuated by these other parties. The first step to achieve this is to ensure that any ‘recovery’ is a fair one that benefits most the people hardest hit by austerity.

"The global figures of our manifesto commitments amount to a current expenditure of €6.3 billion, capital expenditure of €3.1 billion, and unallocated capital/current expenditure of €1.2 billion. Giving a total of €10.68 billion.

"It is our plan to create 250,000 jobs over 5 years and on top of this direct jobs investment, in government we would enact a series of measures to stimulate enterprise and facilitate the creation of jobs in the private sector.

"What sets us apart from the other parties in this election is that it is not just the number of jobs that it is important to us, but the type and quality of the jobs. 

"It’s important that underpinning this job creation strategy is a fair and progressive tax system that benefits all workers.

"We will scrap water charges, abolish the property tax, and remove workers earning under €19,572 from USC net, benefiting 277,000 people.

"The top 6% of earners will be asked to pay an additional seven cent out of every euro earned on income over €100,000.

"If a worker loses his or her job, or if a citizen is unable to access the job market, our progressive government will ensure they are protected from poverty and enabled to return to work or assist in their community. 

"We will keep AIB in State ownership for minimum of five years, subject to an application for recapitalisation. We will also ensure a review of Credit Union regulations and lending restrictions, to ensure they play a greater role in our banking system.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD, outlined Sinn Féin’s vision for a fair and sustainable recovery as an alternative to the boom and bust policies of the current and previous governments. 

Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s election manifesto today, Teachta Adams said:

“The Sinn Féin manifesto is a plan for change. It is a plan for a sustainable and fair recovery. We believe that citizens have fundamental rights which the Government has a responsibility to deliver. 

“Instead of delivering a democratic revolution, Fine Gael and Labour have brought chaos to the lives of our citizens. Now Enda Kenny is committed to the reckless boom and bust policies of Fianna Fáil. He doesn't believe in a citizen-centred, rights-based society.

“In this election citizens have a real choice. They will decide whether a new government invests in building a just and fair society or whether it rewards high earners and the elites.

“We have a plan for a fair recovery that grows the economy and brings stability to the lives of individuals and working families. In Government Sinn Féin would abolish Water Charges and the Family Home Tax. We would take nearly 300,000 citizens out of the USC net.

“Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have all sought to privatise our public health system. Sinn Féin's plan is to move from the two-tier, public-private system to a universal health service, free at the point of delivery to all citizens as a right.

“The current housing and homelessness crisis happened because Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour refused to invest in social and affordable housing.There are now 90,000 households on local authority waiting lists, 5,000 people homeless, including 1,500 children.

“Sinn Féin believes in the right to a home. We are committed to building 100,000 social and affordable homes and to guaranteeing rent certainty. Sinn Fein has a plan to deliver 250,000 jobs over the next five years.

“Sinn Féin also wants to see far-reaching reform of the political system. In the time ahead we will seek to deliver a referendum on a united Ireland. We will introduce northern representation to the Dáil, and extend Presidential voting rights to citizens in the north and the Diaspora. We will introduce a Green Paper on Irish Unity.

“2016 is a time to deliver on the promise of the 1916 Proclamation. Ireland is a small country – all 32 counties. It is a wonderful place to live in.

“The Taoiseach wants it to be the best place in the world to do business in. We are more ambitious for our people. We want Ireland to be the best place to grow up in, to grow old in, to enjoy life in.

“For the first time since the foundation of this State, there is an opportunity to elect a progressive, Sinn Féin-led Government which place the rights of citizens at the centre of Government decision making.

“Tá sé in am vótáil do Shinn Féin.”

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Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin Ó Broin has welcomed the cross party support for his County Development Plan motion placing new density restrictions on the Monastery Road SIAC land. The motion was passed by the Council on February 5thand is now included in the latest draft County Development Plan.

Cllr Ó Broin said:

‘In 2012 An Bord Pleanala approved a highly controversial planning application on the SIAC lands along Monastery Road. The development would see 380 apartments in 18 blocks of between 2 and 8 stories. The plans also included retail development.

‘The development was strongly opposed by local residents who rightly felt that the density of the development was too high, out of character with the surrounding residential areas and would place a huge strain on existing services and amenities.

‘Unfortunately South Dublin County Council and An Bord Pleanala though otherwise and granted SIAC a 10 year planning permission.

‘At last week’s County Development Plan meeting I tabled a motion to insert a new Specific Local Objective (SLO) into the 2016-2021 County Development Plan. The purpose of the SLO is to restrict residential densities on the SIAC land to those of the surrounding housing estates off Monastery Road.

‘The motion was passed unanimously and I am grateful to all the Councillors who supported it.

‘Unfortunately the new restriction does not affect the existing 10 year planning permission. However if the land is not developed within the timeframe of the planning permission the new restrictions would then apply. This would mean that any application for an extension of the existing permission or any new application would have to take into account of the Development Plan’s demand for lower densities.

‘The SIAC development was clearly the last wheeze of a dying Celtic Tiger approach to residential development. It has no place in Clondalkin Village and should not go ahead.

‘Sinn Féin is not opposed to residential and commercial development ion this site. However, like the local community, we do believe that any development should be in keeping with the surrounding area and add to rather than overburden the existing community and infrastructure.

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald has outline Sinn Féin’s vision for a fair recovery - easing the burden on working families, investing €10 billion in public services and addressing the áhousing and health crisis.

Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s election manifesto launch for a Fair Recovery, Deputy McDonald said:

“Sinn Féin wants to deliver a fair recovery and we have two overall priorities – easing the burden on working families and investing €10 billion in public services and addressing the housing crisis.  This is not a wish list, these are costed, sensible proposals, which we can and will deliver in government.

“Hundreds of thousands are feeling no recovery and that is because for the last five years Fine Gael and Labour have caused chaos in their lives:  There are 4,154 fewer nurses in our health system, 2,500 fewer Gardaí in our communities, 1.5 million home help hours were cut and supports for children with special needs were removed.

“Fine Gael and Labour made the political choice to prioritise the protection of high earners and vested interests. They cannot be trusted with our public services.  They have no solution to the housing crisis and no solution to the health crisis.  

“Sinn Féin is the only party with a costed, credible plan for health. We will recruit 6,600 additional frontline health workers increasing the number of beds, more services in the community and 3,800 additional nursing home places to tackle the recurring trolley crisis. We will roll out free GP care for all. We will also abolish prescription charges.

“We will address the housing crisis by building 100,000 social and affordable homes, empowering the Central Bank to set caps on mortgage interest rates and creating rent certainty by linking rent increases to inflation.

“We will prioritise community safety by recruiting 3,000 additional Gardaí to restore An Garda Síochána force levels to 14,250.  We will reverse the closure of Garda stations. 

“These are Sinn Féin’s priorities for government and we are asking the people for a mandate to deliver them.”

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Sinn Fein General Election Candidate David Cullinane has today launched an economic development plan for Waterford City and County.

Senator Cullinane launched the plan as he handed in his nomination papers to register as an election candidate.

Speaking today Senator Cullinane said:

"For Waterford to succeed in generating economic growth and creating employment, a sense of shared purpose to create real regional cohesion is a prerequisite."

"This will involve inter-county and inter-agency collaboration to eliminate needless layers of bureaucracy and deliver effective change. Waterford must become the economic engine for the Southeast and Government policy must reflect this.

"In 2012 I published the Southeast Economic Development Plan. It offered a blueprint for tackling unemployment and stimulating economic growth in Waterford and the region.

"It proposed a long-term Economic Development Strategy that allowed time for new structures to bed in and facilitate long-term planning in terms of R&D, allocation of resources and industry development that is necessary to achieve sustainable economic expansion.

"Some of the report’s recommendations have been implemented and the report succeeded in shining a spotlight on Waterford and the wider region.

"Waterford needs to focus on its key strengths in tourism, agri-business and food production, developing a critical mass of expertise through improved educational attainment, delivery of a Technological University and strong research and development.   

"Waterford must maximise the potential of existing key assets such as Waterford Port, the regional airport and improvements to the road and rail network.

10 key priorities for David Cullinane and Waterford:

1. Implementation of a long term Economic Development Strategy for Waterford that supports a new model for the city and county based on sustainability, meeting the needs of enterprise, an alignment of national, regional and county objectives underpinned by the needs of the community.

2. The development of Waterford City Centre’s retail offering through the use of NAMA property, urban renewal projects and a strategic vision for the North Quays as well as local sustainable development plans for our towns and villages.

3. The establishment of a Technological University in the region and the building of competitive advantage through a strong research and development hub and support for innovation and creativity.

4. A strategy to improve educational attainment and skills provision in Waterford.

5. The development of a regional Transport Hub that aligns road, rail and port infrastructure, maximises use of both ports (Rosslare and Waterford), ensures completion of the Enniscorthy and New Ross Bypass , improvements to the N24 to greatly improve the Limerick to Waterford road corridor and a vision for Dunmore East Harbour which expands the Breakwater and opens opportunities for recreation and leisure activities.

6. Investment in the roll-out of Dark Fibre Network (Broadband) across the City and County.

7. Investment in the regional Airport to allow for expansion of the runway and the opening of opportunities to access new markets and supporting growth in tourism.

8. Supporting tourism as a key driver of economic growth through a coordinated and integrated regional strategy and the development of a strategic tourism vision.

9. The Development of the Southeast as a world leader in Food including production, processing, ingredients and technology. This should involve maximising the potential of Harvest 2020 and the abolition of the milk quota in 2015.

10. Prioritise investment in public services with Health, Housing and Childcare as key priorities.

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Mayor of South Dublin, Councillor Sarah Holland, has called for the incoming Irish government to make the release of Irishman Ibrahim Halawa from an Egyptian jail a top priority of its foreign affairs agenda. 

Councillor Holland, Sinn Féin candidate for Dublin South West in the General Election, said:

“Yesterday we welcomed Omaima Halawa, Ibrahim’s sister, to address our council meeting to call for renewed efforts to bring her brother home to Ireland. 

“Omaima spoke of Ibrahim’s struggle to maintain his resolve under such difficult circumstances. She also raised serious concerns about possible government involvement in the death of the young Italian PhD student, Giulio Regeni, who was found tortured and murdered in Egypt last week.

“Ibrahim has been held in an Egyptian jail without trial for more than two and a half years, since his arrest at a protest when he was 17 years old. He is due to be tried with almost 500 others on serious charges that amount to an attack on the right to free speech and freedom of assembly – but his trial has been postponed 10 times.

“According to Ibrahim’s legal team and rights groups such as Amnesty International, the Egyptian regime has committed numerous breaches of its obligations under international law. Ibrahim has endured torture, arbitrary detention, and denial of access to his lawyer. He is facing a life sentence and possibly even the death penalty.

“The South Dublin County Council has supported two previous motions, with all-party support, that call for Ibrahim’s human rights to be respected, and for his release from jail in Egypt – one passed in 2013 and one last year. Today we reaffirmed that support.

“The European Parliament in December passed a resolution calling for Ibrahim’s release with the support of all Irish MEPs and the overwhelming support of the Parliament as a whole. I was pleased to welcome Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan, who spearheaded that effort, to the Council today for Omaiama’s presentation.

Cllr Holland continued:

 “In South Dublin and Dublin County Councils, and in the European Parliament, we’ve seen cross-party support for this call, and moves were made towards an all-party motion to go through the Dáil before the break. 

“What was clear from today’s council discussion is that we can all put party politics aside in support of this young Irishman being brought home. The incoming Irish government – in particular the incoming Taoiseach and Foreign Minister – must make the resolution of this case their top priority.”

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald responding to this morning’s report from DAFT.ie on rising prices in the rental housing market and the lack of houses said;

“Alan Kelly has been a disaster as the Minister with responsibility for housing.  His failure to deal with the crisis caused soaring rent prices over the last twelve months. This has led to untold hardship including forcing some families into homelessness.

“One of Sinn Féin’s key priorities in this campaign is housing and at our manifesto launch this morning I will be setting out two measures which will be key to dealing with this crisis once and for all.  Firstly we have a plan to build 100,000 social and affordable homes and secondly we will create rent certainty by linking rent increases to inflation.”

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Speaking in Dungarvan this evening, Sinn Féin general election candidate Senator David Cullinane said building a sustainable and fair recovery for the Irish people is a matter of choice. He made the remarks at an election campaign rally in Lawlors Hotel, alongside Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada. 

Senator David Cullinane said;

“Politics is about priorities and the choices we make. The electorate have an historic opportunity to choose a Sinn Féin-led, progressive Government that will end inequality and unfairness. We have an opportunity to choose a government that puts the rights of the people above the desires of the wealthy and well-connected. 

“Sinn Féin are in this election to win. We want to see a government that will work to unite the country and deliver on the promises of the 1916 Proclamation. Our opponents, the establishment parties of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, have tries to dismiss Sinn Féin, but we have caught them out on their spin and their spoofing. 

“They are trying to buy the electorate with their empty promises that are based on overblown and incorrect figures. Put simply, their sums don't add up. Rather than facing up to the fact they got their numbers totally wrong they are lashing out like scolded children. 

“Enda Kenny won't attempt an explanation because he thinks the people are stupid and wouldn't understand his answer. Labour are sticking with their numbers, even though they know they're incorrect, and Fianna Fail are staying quiet and hoping no-one notices. 

“Sinn Féin has a vision, and we have a plan to build a long-term, sustainable and fair economic recovery. We have no interest in the boom-and-bust model of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, or of gambling on the economy for political popularity. 

“Sinn Fein will choose to prioritise jobs growth across all regions including rural Ireland and neglected regions such as the South East. Sinn Féin will choose to prioritise the SME sector as a few driver of economic growth and job creation. 

“Sinn Féin will choose to invest in housing, childcare and health. We will ensure the recovery is fair and we will scrap Water Charges and the Family Home Tax. We will take 277,000 low-paid workers out of USC and build a universal health care system for all. 

“Politics is about choosing priorities, and building a fair and sustainable recovery is a matter of choice.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams has condemned the latest shooting in Dublin’s north inner city.

Gerry Adams said:

“I want to condemn the latest shooting incident tonight in Dublin, which has brought further fear and intimidation to the streets of our capital.

“Those behind this latest shooting, and those behind the dreadful attack last Friday at the Regency Hotel, must be apprehended and taken off our Streets.

“The Gardaí need the fullest possible support from the community in their efforts to do this.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has welcomed news that Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin will host the first Assembly Women's Week from March 7. 

Ms Fearon said; 

"I welcome the fact Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin has announced he will host the first Assembly Women's Week. 

"This will be one of a number of events planned around International Women's Day in order to celebrate the role of women in public life and encourage more participation. 

"Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted the importance of women in politics and three of our four MEPs are women, three out of our five ministers in the Assembly are women and over 40 per cent of our candidates in elections north and south are women. 

"It is vitally important we encourage more women into politics and participate in the democratic process and events like this, will help towards achieving that."

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said the British government must live up to its responsibilities to resource legacy investigations and inquests into the legacy of the conflict. 

Mr Kelly said; 

"Any veto on the disclosure of information to the families of those killed in the conflict is wrong and must end. 

"Sinn Féin has consistently called for maximum disclosure and for investigations into the legacy of the conflict to be resourced by the British government. 

"Some has raised concerns about the amount of money which could be spent on inquiries but the reality is that all of this can be avoided; the British government holds the information. They just need to release it. 

"There is a clear onus on the British government to live up to commitments made in the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014. 

"It must recognise its responsibilities and end its veto on disclosure of information on deaths from the conflict."

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