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No alternative to dialogue and agreement , says McGuinness in major statement on 20th anniversary of IRA cessation

Delivering a keynote address in Derry on Sunday morning on the 20th anniversary of the IRA announcing “a complete cessation of military operations”, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said there is a real threat to the political institutions in the North from political stagnation and the absence of progress.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD in a keynote statement today has warned that the “political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998.”


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



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Galway Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh is calling on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to intervene with the HSE to help extend the life expectancy of Motor Neuron Disease sufferer, Andrew Lydon.

The Sinn Féin Senator said:

“Father of two, Andrew Lydon, from Connemara was diagnosed with MND three years ago. He believes that if he is allowed to have an operation called a tracheostomy; his life expectancy will improve significantly. But the HSE will not agree to him having the operation in Ireland.

“Andrew maintains that every year there are only five or six people in Ireland who would be suitable and would opt for this type of operation and that they are denied that choice by the HSE. He considers this to be a violation of his right to life. “He believes, as a citizen of the state, that the state has a duty to protect his life. He maintains that the trouble is that these five or six people can’t shout loud enough to worry the state and with their ventilation masks on they can hardly be heard at all.

“I am calling on Minister Varadkar to discuss Andrew’s case with the HSE to see what can be done to assist him and to extend his life expectancy, so he can see his children grow up and spend more time with them. Andrew believes that by taking no decision the HSE are allowing him to die by default.

“It is ironic that the state recently expended huge resources in fighting court cases on the right to life and that now we have a man fighting to extend his and they are not giving him their full support.

“Andrew has started his own campaign now to raise the funds he needs to have this operation done and to go towards providing the support needed afterwards and he is asking the public for their support by donating at www.andrewlydontrust.com.

“The Minister and the HSE must do all in their power to help this young father have the best quality of care, for him to extend his chances of seeing his family grow up and not use financial concerns as the barrier to that happening”.

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey on presenting a cheque to Irish Medical Aid for Palestinians said it was important that aid continues to flow to the people of Gaza.

Accompanied by MLA Gerry Kelly and party councillors at Belfast City Hall, the West Belfast MP was presenting the cheque for £3,350 collected by Sinn Féin activists in Belfast over recent weeks.

Paul Maskey said:

“The people of Gaza are under severe pressure after the recent murderous onslaught they suffered.

“Irish Medical Aid for Palestinians do great work in helping the citizens of Gaza and the West Bank and any contribution will help in some small way.”

“It will take months if not longer for the people of Gaza to get their lives back to any resemblance of normality.

“The infrastructure and daily necessities are very scarce on the ground after the Israeli bombardment.

“Hopefully this small gesture from the people of Belfast will help in some way and I would encourage people to keep up their donations, whether that be financial or clothes etc, to the Palestinian people.”

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In an article in today’s Irish News Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD outlines Sinn Féin’s opposition to welfare cuts. 

Sinn Féin have been accused of accused of having no ideological basis for our opposition to Tory welfare cuts.

Either those making the accusations haven’t been listening or has chosen to ignore what Sinn Féin has been saying.

I have long argued for a rights-based, citizen-centred society. Sinn Féin's commitment is to the republican ideals of equality and social justice for all citizens. No-one therefore should be surprised when this results in a consistency of political policy.

Sinn Féin is politically and ideologically opposed to austerity in Ireland - north and south - and in Europe. There is a fallacy that our opposition to austerity is merely to do with an electoral calculation in the south. This is nonsense.

There is nothing in republican ideology that seeks to create a 'benefit-dependent nation' but what Sinn Féin will do is campaign for the right of people to live free of poverty and inequality.

'Welfare reform' is a misnomer for what is taking place under the Tories, which is an attack on the most vulnerable, the sick, disabled, those out of work because of Westminster's policies, and those on low incomes.

These citizens are being made to pay for the excesses and recklessness of property speculators, developers, bankers and tax dodgers. This is being imposed by a British cabinet of millionaires with no experience, understanding or regard for life in the north of Ireland or indeed in working-class communities in Britain.

Tory policy threatens to destroy the economy through savage cuts to public funding and welfare. The implementation of these measures in England has been a complete disaster and has plunged thousands into poverty and deprivation.

The north is a society emerging from decades of conflict. Clearly, you cannot apply here that which applies in England and Wales. What we need is investment in jobs and business, not the removal of £1.9 billion from the economy.

Citizens most directly affected by the conflict are among those suffering the highest levels of deprivation. The percentage of people in receipt of disability benefits is higher in the north than anywhere else in Ireland or Britain. Welfare cuts will merely worsen their situation.

Before the term 'welfare reform' was mooted, the Tories were imposing cuts by reneging on the St Andrew’s commitment of £18bn and imposing a £4bn cut to the block grant. These cuts impacted upon services and the present health crisis in the north can be traced back to these cuts.

At the time when other parties said such cuts were insurmountable Sinn Féin produced a paper on how we could raise up to £1.6bn to offset them. We refused to sign off on the budget until other parties also came to the position of looking at alternative ways of raising money to protect services.

The financial powers currently retained by Westminster should be devolved to the executive because people here are at the mercy of an unaccountable Tory regime, determined to penalise the poor.

Sinn Féin has consistently produced proposals proving there is an alternative to cuts. Welfare cuts should be opposed by a united executive. They are a blow to the rights and welfare of ordinary Protestant working class families as they are to their Catholic neighbours.

It would suit the DUP better to defend the rights and welfare entitlements of working class unionists and loyalists than expend energy on bringing people onto the streets over the flying of flags or the right of Orangemen to parade wherever they please.

Of course, this merely underlines my contention that this is a fundamentally a question of ideology - of what type of society you want to build.

Those politicians now predicting that the sky will fall unless welfare cuts are imposed are the same politicians who were prepared to roll over on the issue of water charges and who told the public then that the taps would be turned off.

Sinn Féin faced down prophets of doom then and we can do so again with the support of citizens, the other parties and civic society."

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Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has joined calls for action to be taken to save St. Brigids Boxing Club in Kildare town.  Mr. Carthy visited the club last Friday, 29th August, and met with Head Coach Pat Phelan to discuss concerns for the club’s future.

St. Brigids Boxing Club has been operating out of its current premises for five years but is now threatened with closure as the unit in which it is housed is being sold by the National Asset Management Agency.

Speaking following his visit the Midlands North West MEP confirmed that he has written to the Minister for Sport, NAMA chairperson Frank Daly and the Ministers for Finance calling for action to secure the future of the club.

Mr. Carthy said: 

“This club is an asset to its local community.  It has over 150 members, has produced many champions and has provided an outlet for many young people in the area.  The present location and facilities are perfect for the Club and try as they might the members have not been able to find alternative suitable accommodation in the area. 

“Since my meeting with Head Coach, Pat Phelan, and other members of the club I have written to NAMA chairman Frank Daly to explore ways of ensuring the future of the Boxing Club.  Section 2 of the NAMA Act states that it shall be an objective of the Agency to contribute to employment and economic recovery and to the achievement of broader social and economic policy objectives.  The closure of St. Brigids Boxing Club would run counter to this objective”.

Carthy continued:

“The closure of such a facility is an outrage considering two in three adults and one in four children in Ireland are overweight or obese. An estimated 90% of people in Ireland will be obese by 2030 unless drastic action is taken, experts have warned.  Reports from the Irish Sports Council indicate that only 19% of primary school and 12% of post-primary school children are meeting Department of Health and Children physical activity recommendations.  Sporting clubs are at the forefront in the battle to address this deficiency.

“I have also written to the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Pascal Donohoe, calling for political intervention to save the club.  It is not good enough for politicians to heap praise on Olympic medal winning boxers such as Katie Taylor while at the same time failing to provide adequate supports for clubs such as St. Brigids.”

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Falls councillor Jim McVeigh said tonight that social justice had trumped Tory greed as Belfast City Council voted to back a Sinn Féin motion opposing the imposition of Tory cuts.

The Sinn Féin council group leader said:

“Belfast city councillors have tonight sent out a strong message that the welfare cuts being proposed by David Cameron’s millionaire cabinet are unacceptable to the citizens of this city.

“The council has recognised the devastating impact the proposed Tory welfare cuts would have on the most vulnerable people in our society, including working families, the poor and people with disabilities.  

“Social justice has tonight trumped Tory greed at Belfast City Council.

“Civic society in Britain, the churches, charities, trades unions and people at the coal face of delivering frontline services have branded the welfare cuts a disgrace and an attack on the poor.

“Sinn Féin is calling on local people to unite in a campaign to protect those who need our help most and to stop these Tory cuts in their tracks.”

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Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy said tonight that Sinn Féin will continue its opposition to vicious Tory welfare cuts and would not be accepting any lectures from Iain Duncan Smith.

Conor Murphy said:

“Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare cuts in Britain have been an unmitigated disaster since their introduction in 2013.

“These cuts have been an attack on the most vulnerable people in society, taking money out of the pockets of low-paid workers, people with disabilities, lone parents and the poor.

“The impact of these vicious cuts in Britain has been increasing levels of child poverty, homelessness and dependency on charities and food banks.

“People have been driven to desperation and even suicide and the welfare system set up by Iain Duncan Smith is in chaos.

“Sinn Féin won’t be taking lectures on our responsibilities to the electorate from Mr Duncan Smith or anyone else in Cameron’s millionaire cabinet.

“The responsible thing for all parties here to do is to stand up together against the Tories attempt to impose further hardship on those who can least afford it.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has secured an emergency meeting of the health committee this week to discuss Edwin Poots' management of the budget.

The Foyle MLA who is chair of the Assembly’s health committee said: 

"Edwin Poots has many questions to answer on his handling of the health budget. 

"Sinn Féin has made it clear we will support more money being made available for health.

"We have a responsibility however, to ensure that any additional money for the health service will be spent on relieving pressures on frontline services.

"Edwin Poots has serious questions to answer about his management of the health budget which has been criticised by his party colleague, the finance minister.

"I have secured a meeting of the health committee so that important questions can be put to the minister. 

"The minister has much to do to restore public confidence in the health system and to convince people that he is actually up to the job.” 

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Sinn Féin's 8 County Councillors in Meath will hold a 24 hour sleep out and fast to highlight the housing crisis in the county. The 'Build Homes' sleep out and fast will commence at 6pm on Friday 5th September and will take place at Kennedy Road/Navan Shopping Centre. It comes just days before a Sinn Féin motion calling for a state house building programme will be debated at a full meeting of Meath County Council on Monday 8th September.

Speaking in advance of the sleep out the party's Group Leader on Meath County Council, Cllr. Darren O'Rourke said;

"The housing crisis in Co. Meath needs to be highlighted. It needs to be addressed. That is why we in Sinn Féin have organised the 'Build Homes' 24 hour sleep out and fast, and why we have tabled a motion to the next meeting of Meath County Council. Our message is very clear - Build Homes.

"Despite receiving a strong mandate to do the opposite, this Government has completely failed to address the housing crisis. The sum total of their housing policy is a three page document written in 2011. This says it all! Instead of getting better, the situation is getting worse. Hundreds of thousands of people throughout the state are left without suitable and sustainable accommodation. In Meath alone 3,625 families are on the social housing waiting list. This does not include those families on medium term contracts on the Rental Accommodation Scheme, so the true number is significantly higher.

“Co. Meath’s ludicrously low Rent Allowance rates further compound the problem for those seeking temporary alternative accommodation in the private rented sector. In some cases this forces families to the brink of homelessness. In the first half of 2014, 32 households in Meath were provided with Emergency Accommodation. Similarly, this does not take account of all those who have relied on family, friends, neighbours and voluntary organisations to provide an emergency solution. These are incredible figures and reflect the magnitude of the problem.

"The Government has allowed this situation to arise. They are asleep at the wheel. A major investment of funds for social housing, such as the €1 billion identified by Sinn Féin in the Strategic Investment Fund, is now urgently required.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann said those responsible for a security alert which closed the Westlink have nothing to offer the community. 

Speaking after visiting the scene, the West Belfast MLA said; 

"Those responsible for this type of disruption have nothing to offer the local community. 

"I and others are working on a daily basis to tackle decades of deprivation and underfunding in west Belfast. 

"Actions like these do not improve the situation in any way and only add to the problems. 

"This needs to stop. It achieves nothing except adding to the difficulties of the local community."

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Gerry Adams at Hungerstrike rally in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh