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Speaking today from the platform at Dublin Pride 2017, Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield said:

“A chairde,

“I am honoured to have been invited to speak today by the organisers of Dublin Pride. Sinn Féin commend your voluntary effort, today and all of the other days.

“I am mindful that many of our brothers and sisters right across the globe still literally put their lives on the line to celebrate Pride.

“I want to make particular reference to our community in Chechnya, who are facing unprecedented levels of oppression, murder and violence - you are not alone and we are with you always.

“And to those who deny the existence of gay men in Chechnya, know this; Ireland condemns your murder and your hate, and stands with all those who seek to overcome your violence, with solidarity, compassion, and with actions that speak louder than words. With truth and love against a force of evil.

“On May the 22nd 2015, the Irish people said, in no uncertain terms, that they believe in an equal Ireland, that they favour civil marriage equality, and that everyone, every citizen and every resident should have the same opportunity, no matter who we are, what we look like, where we’re from, or who we love.

“That is the spirit in which we can, and must build a New Ireland. An Ireland that recognises a person’s right to a home, to marriage equality, to Traveller ethnicity, to gender recognition, to live free from direct provision. An Ireland that guarantees decency and democracy at work, and an Ireland where everyone has access to a universal health service.

“In the North of Ireland, Sinn Féin will not give up the struggle for marriage equality. We all made grá the law in the south and our northern brothers and sisters deserve no less.

“I believe and Sinn Féin believe that Ireland’s response to a fractured world must be truly inclusive, and that our response should include all of the multitudes of voices that together speak of and for a new Ireland – from all genders and none, of all ages, of all sexual orientation and social background, of all skin colour and regardless of a disability.

“The rainbow society, the LGBTQI community, has a role to play in building alliances and in shaping Ireland’s response to a fractured world, and that work begins in the campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment. We in Sinn Féin will be with you every step of the way.

“I want to finally give a special welcome to those who join the protest for the first time, and I want to wish all of our community, allies, and friends a safe, happy, and healthy Pride.

“You’re amazing and wonderful. And you look great. So, stay safe and have fun, and make this year’s Dublin Pride the best ever!

“Go raibh mile maith agaibh go léir!” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that those who are saying that a majority vote in favour of a United Ireland is not sufficient to bring that objective about are wrong and that the Good Friday Agreement is very clear on this point.

Addressing the ‘An Agreed Future’ conference in Belfast today, Matt Carthy said:“The Good Friday Agreement is specific and unambiguous on this point. It is clear that a 50%-plus-one vote will secure unity. But, let’s not have it so close. “We should work together to convince the greatest possible number of people across Ireland that Unity is in their best interest.  “And let us convince those who think otherwise that they have nevertheless nothing to fear from the outcome of a referendum. He challenged Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the SDLP to start engaging with Sinn Féin on the issue:“For our part Sinn Féin understands that we cannot win a United Ireland campaign without the support of other pro-unity parties. They, likewise, need to recognise that Irish Unity won’t happen without Sinn Féin. “We will happily challenge, debate and argue with those parties on most current political, social economic issues - in many cases we will have fundamental disagreements.   “But, on the biggest issue before our people - that of the reunification of our country - we apparently agree.  “So, why not work together in the knowledge that it is only by doing so that we have any prospect of delivering it.The Midlands North West MEP said Brexit and the election results demonstrate an urgent need for an inclusive, constructive debate on the future. “This must include constitutional options and what a United Ireland might look like. “Unionist representatives also need to be involved in that debate. They need to influence it.

“They cannot remain aloof from this discussion. Attempting to do so amounts merely to head-in-the-sand politics and does nothing to serve the interests of the people unionist parties claim to represent.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has called for urgent action about the dumping of pallets at the base of one of the tower blocks in the New Lodge area of North Belfast. 

Speaking today Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“Those who have stacked and dumped pallets at the base of one of the tower blocks in the New Lodge are playing with people’s lives. 

“This is showing the utmost disregard for this community and those who live in this tower block. 

“There has been a small group of anti-social elements engaging in collecting bonfire material over the past week and rightly the community has rejected this. 

“Today's actions bring this to a new level. 

“I have been in contact with the PSNI, the Housing Executive and Belfast City Council to get this removed with urgency. 

“This is totally unacceptable and must stop before we are dealing with a death or serious injury in this community.

“We have seen the tragic effect of a fire in a tower block in London. It cannot be allowed to happen here.” 

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Introduction

I wish to begin by welcoming and thanking you all for coming here today to take part in what is a critical discussion on the political future of this island – an agreed future and a New Ireland.

The Brexit referendum result a year ago has swept away many of the previous political assumptions about the constitutional, political and economic status quo of the North. 

Ireland’s political landscape, North and South, will change dramatically over the next number of years.

Added to this has been the recent Assembly and Westminster election results which show that the electorate and the wider population are once again re-engaged in the political process. 

This is a good and necessary thing. 

These elections have activated a transformation unimaginable to the founders of the Northern state.

For Sinn Féin this is all about defending people’s rights, interests and shaping our constitutional, political and economic future on this island.

Make no mistake about it - there is a strong sense across the island that we are now entering into a new political era and a new conversation about the future is underway outside and beyond the political classes.

People understand that this is all about our future and that the political stakes are high. 

The old certainties are gone. 

The perpetual unionist majority has ended. 

Europe is in a state of flux.

People know that Brexit will be a disaster for our economy. That is why a cross-community majority here voted against it last June.

It will be a disaster for local business, for farmers and the wider agri-food industry, for the health service, for workers’ rights, border communities and our peace process.

Brexit and the Good Friday Agreement are incompatible. It undermines the constitutional, institutional and political framework and is literally an act of political vandalism.

It is unacceptable. It is not in our economic interests. 

And it is being forced upon us by a reckless and dangerous self-serving Tory government in London who do not care if this island becomes collateral damage – to be frank.

Partition divided our people, our economy, our public services, and the democratic system. It was wrong and it has failed. 

And ending partition has now taken on a new dynamic following the Brexit referendum.

Sinn Féin is sensibly arguing the case for the North to be designated special status within the EU giving us access to the single market, no borders, and securing the entire island of Ireland in the EU together, including special provisions to allow the North to seamlessly resume full status within the EU in the aftermath of a successful Irish Unity referendum.

This can be done within the current constitutional arrangements. 

The Good Friday Agreement political institutions, human rights guarantees, all-Ireland bodies, and the constitutional and legal right of the people to exercise their right to self-determination and a united Ireland through consent, by referendum north and south, must all be protected.

I am confident that as the consequences of Brexit become clearer more and more people from a unionist background will be open to the idea of exploring new relationships on this island.

Brexit demonstrates the undemocratic nature of partition. 

The political landscape is starting to dramatically change – the onus is absolutely on all of us to shape that change, by organising and intelligently putting the argument for unity and for a referendum as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.   

The Good Friday Agreement provides a peaceful democratic pathway to Irish Unity.

Sinn Féin believes there should be a referendum vote on Irish unity within the next five years. 

I believe that the opportunities for real change are within our grasp.  

I believe that now is the time to plan a new, agreed and united Ireland. 

A progressive, prosperous and inclusive Ireland. 

One in which all identities and traditions have a place and the opportunity to contribute to our shared nation – unionist and nationalist together.

There is an onus and responsibility on republicans and United Irelanders to persuade others and win hearts and minds to the merits of reunification and how it is in all our best longer term interests. 

We must advocate for it, campaign for it and win the debate for it. 

But Sinn Féin do not own the debate or the idea of a United Ireland. It belongs to everyone who shares this island together.

However, it is our primary objective and we are clearly up for the debate because we are confident in our vision. 

We are confident about the economic, social and political benefits that a new Ireland will bring.

Independent studies have already concluded that the island’s economy would benefit to the tune of €35billion. 

I am sure we will hear much more about the benefits throughout the course of today’s discussions.

Irish unity is now firmly on the agenda.

Today will also demonstrate that the debate doesn’t have to be divisive. 

It doesn’t have to be rancorous. 

It can be mature, rational and respectful. Exploring, debating and discussing the evidence to deliver constitutional and political change in an objective manner – and surely that’s what politics is about.

Thank you.

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Sinn Féin Councillor Jim McVeigh has commented after this morning's Belfast City Council Strategic Policy and Resources Committee meeting on facilitation by council of illegal bonfires.

Councillor McVeigh said:

"The removal of illegal bonfire material which was being stored on council land actually took place in the early hours of Thursday 22nd June.

"This information was withheld from Sinn Féin during discussions with council officials on the afternoon of Thursday 22nd June.

"This came on top of repeated instances of information relating to the council’s conduct on bonfires being withheld from Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin called for a number of actions to be taken on this issue.

"A decision was then taken at the Strategic Policy and Resources committee meeting this morning that the council’s Chief Executive will head an investigation into this entire scandal with an independent element included.

"A decision was also taken that any remaining bonfire material being held by Belfast City Council will not be returned and, importantly, that the storing of material for bonfires will never happen again. 

"This is a disgraceful episode, which will need thoroughly investigated.

"The ratepayers and citizens of Belfast deserve no less than the highest standards from their council and on this occasion clearly those standards have not been met.

"Sinn Féin will be monitoring the investigation closely."

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Sinn Féin Councillor Jim McVeigh has commented after this morning's Belfast City Council Strategic Policy and Resources Committee meeting on facilitation by council of illegal bonfires.

Councillor McVeigh said:

"The removal of illegal bonfire material which was being stored on council land actually took place in the early hours of Thursday 22nd June.

"This information was withheld from Sinn Féin during discussions with council officials on the afternoon of Thursday 22nd June.

"This came on top of repeated instances of information relating to the council’s conduct on bonfires being withheld from Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin called for a number of actions to be taken on this issue.

"A decision was then taken at the Strategic Policy and Resources committee meeting this morning that the council’s Chief Executive will head an investigation into this entire scandal with an independent element included.

"A decision was also taken that any remaining bonfire material being held by Belfast City Council will not be returned and, importantly, that the storing of material for bonfires will never happen again.

"This is a disgraceful episode, which will need thoroughly investigated.

"The ratepayers and citizens of Belfast deserve no less than the highest standards from their council and on this occasion clearly those standards have not been met.

"Sinn Féin will be monitoring the investigation closely."

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The scale of collusion in case of a self-confessed UVF killer and police informer demonstrates what the British State is trying to hide through a so-called ‘statute of limitations’, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said.

The North Belfast MLA was reacting to today’s hearing at Belfast Crown Court where UVF ‘supergrass’ Gary Haggarty pleaded guilty to 200 charges, including five murders and five attempted murders. All of the killings, and the majority of the other offences, took place while he was working as a police informer.

Gerry Kelly said:

“The scale of collusion in this case is appalling but it is only the latest in a line of high-profile cases which are beginning to expose the extent to which the RUC and British State forces colluded with loyalist death squads throughout the conflict.

“This man was a senior member of the UVF involved in directing that organisation’s sectarian campaign and by his own admission, was involved in a string of murders all the while acting as a Special Branch informer. 

“He has claimed that his handlers not only protected him from arrest and prosecution, but also actively encouraged his activities.

“The full extent of Special Branch’s involvement with Haggarty needs to be thoroughly and independently investigated, but there are many within unionism and right-wing Toryism who want cases like this never to come to light.

“That is the real motivation behind current attempts to establish a so-called statute of limitations which would prevent investigations of past crimes. They don’t fear witch-hunts; they fear the full scale of the British State’s involvement in the murder of Irish citizens being exposed to the wider world.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson today launched the first in a series of monthly newsletters designed  to keep people here updated on the Brexit negotiations. 

Speaking at the launch in Newry, Martina Anderson said: 

"With the Brexit negotiations now formally underway it is vitally important that people know what is happening. 

"These negotiations will shape our future, our relationships on this island and with Europe. 

"The British government wanted these negotiations to be conducted in secret but I and my Sinn Féin colleagues worked hard to ensure there would be openness and transparency. 

"As part of that commitment to transparency I will be publishing a monthly newsletter on what is happening in the negotiations and how its impact on Ireland. 

"The first issue of that newsletter was launched today in Newry where I and my party colleagues Sinead Ennis, Mickey Brady and John O'Dowd gave an update on Brexit and our demand for designated special status for the north within the EU. 

"The newsletter can be accessed at http://martinamep.eu/new-monthly-brexit-newsletter/

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Speaking from his constituency today, Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson, Martin Kenny TD, said the response of the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to his question on low farm incomes was inadequate and disingenuous.

Deputy Kenny said:

“The Teagasc figures showing that the average farm income last year was only €24,000, a decrease of nine per cent since 2015, which indicates a significant crisis for the majority of Irish farmers. The Minister’s response in the Dáil yesterday when I raised this was to point out that 64% of farms are classified as part-time.

“The reason that two-thirds of farms are part-time is because incomes are so low that people cannot make ends meet without working off-farm. The minister likes to suggest that this is a choice.

“When I asked what were the plans in the Department to support farmers and increase farm income, his response was to point to direct payments from the EU and the Agriculture Cash Flow Support Loan Scheme.

“Meanwhile, Irish meat and dairy produce is of such a high quality that it should be fetching top price on the market. There is a job to be done in the promotion of such agri-food produce in the top-class and top price range and that price should be reflected in the price that the primary producer, the farmer, receives for his hard work.

“It is not good enough that the middlemen can cream off high margins and that the consumer pays top price, but the farmer is not benefitting. We see the government again gives ‘market’ priority over the well-being of citizens. We see it in the housing crisis and we see it in unwillingness to tackle monopolies and ensure that the farmer is treated fairly.” 

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Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the information which came to light during the inquest into the tragic death of a young woman at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street which occurred last year highlights the dangers that women still face during pregnancy. 

Deputy O’Reilly said: 

“The information which arose during the inquest into the death of a young woman at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street last year was truly shocking and deeply upsetting. 

“The coroner’s verdict of medical misadventure in this case highlights the dangers that women still face during pregnancy. 

“While Ireland has one of the world’s lowest rates of maternal death, consistently ranking around joint 6th in Europe and the world, with some of the best nurses, midwives, and doctors in the world, pregnancy is still complex and can still be fraught with dangers in certain instances. 

“This heart-breaking case highlights the work that still needs to be done regarding the maternity services in the state. 

“Pregnancy still carries risks for women and we need to do all we can to minimise these risks. 

“Most importantly, that includes the full implementation of the National Maternity Strategy so that all maternity hospitals meet the ‘Birthrate Plus’ standard. 

“While nothing can reverse this situation and bring this young lady back, I do welcome the robust internal review that has begun, as outlined by NMH chairman Nicholas Kearns, and I also welcome the unreserved apology for the shortcomings in care from the hospital.” 

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Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD last night hosted a successful meeting on the issue of the Eighth Amendment in Prussia St Community Centre.  

Teachta McDonald said:

“Last night, we kicked off our ‘Repeal and Enact’ campaign with the first in a series of public meetings which we intend to roll out across the state.

“We were delighted to have Orla O’Connor (NWCI) and Gerry Edwards (TFMR) as guest speakers. Both made powerful contributions on the night and drove home the importance of repealing the Eighth Amendment and the need for unity to achieve this.

“It is clear from those who attended last night’s meeting that the Eighth Amendment has to go and it must be replaced with compassion.

“For our part, Sinn Féin will push strongly for repeal, followed by the enactment of legislation that would allow terminations in the cases of rape, incest, and fatal foetal abnormality.

“We are up for the challenge and up for the fight. There can be no more delays. The Eighth Amendment affects women and their families in every part of the country. It has to go.” 

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has said that “Department of Housing red tape is slowing down social housing delivery and this is one of the main reasons why so few new units are being built”.

The Dublin Mid-West TD has called on the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to urgently revise the current 4 stage social housing approval process which delays the delivery of social houses by 18 to 24 months. 

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“All social housing projects across the State must go through a four stage approval, tendering and procurement process between the Local Authority and the Department of Housing. This cumbersome process can take 18 to 24 months from conception to construction commencement and is holding up the delivery of homes. A number of social housing projects currently underway have been ‘in the pipeline’ for three years.

“There has been attempts made to address this problem and Department of Housing has started to send teams into Local Authorities in an attempt to speed up this slow approvals process. However there is no evidence to suggest that this is working and unfortunately some believe that it is making things worse.

“Minister Murphy needs to accept that this approach isn’t working. According to the Social Housing Construction Projects Progress Report for quarter one of 2017, of the 607 social housing developments planned, only 130 of these are on site. The majority of the projects are stuck in Department of Housing bureaucracy and therefore won’t be delivered for at least 18 months. 

“Late last year, I published a document as to how the approvals process for social housing could be speeded up. This would consist of a one stage approval process instead of the current four stage process. 

“Minister Simon Coveney rushed through legislation last year to allow for the fast tracking of large private sector housing developments. Despite repeated calls to bring the same urgency to social housing delivery, Minister Coveney refused to act.

“I am calling on the new Minister, as a matter of urgency, to replace the four stage approval process with a single stage process that ensures construction commences no later than 6 months after Part 8 planning has been approved. This is one of the single most important things he can do to speed up the delivery of social housing.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed confirmation from the Irish Government that it is seeking special status for the North of Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

Ms. Anderson was speaking after Dublin's Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the Irish Government is demanding 'special status' for the North after Brexit. The Minister also dismissed 'language coming from London' in recent days that technology alone  could bypass the need for border posts.

"It is a very welcome development that the Dublin Government is now coming onto the ground of special status as the only way to prevent a hard border in Ireland in the event of Brexit," she said.

"Special status within the EU would also give effect to the democratic wishes of the majority in the North who voted to remain so Dublin should join us in making that case.

"Sinn Féin has been lobbying every EU member state on the need for special status and there is a great deal of empathy with our position. if the Dublin Government is now also coming on board it will greatly strengthen our case, particularly in the face of Britain's increasingly chaotic Brexit agenda."

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Ahead of tomorrow's meeting of Belfast City Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Jim McVeigh has expressed serious concern about decisions relating to bonfires taken by council officers.

Cllr McVeigh said:

"Belfast City Council has been facilitating multiple illegal bonfires across this city and has withheld this information from some councillors.

"We now find this has also happened in previous years and again this information has been withheld from some councillors.

"At tomorrow's meeting of the council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee we will be asking for the Council Chief Executive to make a public apology for the damage done to the reputation of this council.

"Under no circumstances should any bonfire material be returned to any illegal bonfire site.

"Returning bonfire material to any of these illegal sites would make Belfast City Council complicit in the sectarian and racist hate crimes that occur around these sites and on bonfires.

"On one illegal bonfire site, the council has removed pallets using council vehicles and staff at a cost to the ratepayer.

"The council has also cleaned the site using council staff and equipment at a cost to the ratepayer.

"The council is also storing pallets on council property for this illegal bonfire at a cost to the ratepayer.

"And the council intends to return these pallets to be used in this illegal bonfire that will cause physical and environmental damage and which ratepayers will have to foot the cost to get cleaned up again.

"This is scandalous behaviour from council officers to allow this to happen and be part of this.

"Decisions taken in secret by a number of council officers gives us serious concern.

"The facilitation by Belfast City Council of illegal bonfires and the hate crimes that occur on them has to stop now."

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said that the recognition by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney that the North requires special status is welcome but warned that the value would be realised in the details, which the government has failed to provide so far.

Teachta Doherty said;

"We welcome the fact that the government has finally recognised that the North of Ireland requires Special Status in the wake of Brexit.

"This something that Sinn Féin has been advocating since the result of the Brexit referendum last year. It is the only way to ensure that the vote of the people in the North to remain part of the European Union is respected.

"However, the Government has yet to provide the details on what they mean by Special Status.

"Sinn Féin is very clear. When we say Designated Special Status for the North we mean within the European Union.

 "This means all of Ireland would remain within the Customs Union. It means that no economic border would be imposed on the island of Ireland. We have produced a number of comprehensive policy documents detailing our position.

 "The government have been anything but clear. At Leaders Questions today in the Dáil,Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald refused to tell me if the Taoiseach would be campaigning for the North of Ireland to remain within the Customs Union and if he will oppose an economic border being forced upon Ireland.

"The government must ​outline in definite language what it means when it speaks of 'special status' for the North.

"The Taoiseach and Minister Coveney should do this as soon as possible."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the call of the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Committee for a “tailored solution” for the North in the wake of Brexit.

Teachta Adams also welcomed the Committee's acknowledgement of the importance of the all island economy in any approach.

Mr Adams said:

“The report from the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Committee states that the North requires a ‘tailored solution’ response to Brexit.

“The committee states that this solution should be ‘based on geography, relationships, politics and people on this island’.

“Sinn Féin has proposed such a solution and it is for the North to assigned Designated Special Status within the European Union.

“This solution would ensure that there is no economic border on the island of Ireland.

“It would allow all of Ireland to remain in the Customs Union, the Single Market and under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

“It would protect our economy, our peace process and our people.

“It would ensure the freedom of movement of goods, people and services on the island of Ireland.

“Any restriction on the freedom of movement would represent a hardening of the border.

“This would severely damage social and economic cohesion.

“This would be unacceptable to people living in border communities and to people right across the island.

“Special status would ensure the North’s trading relationship with the rest of Ireland and the EU – particularly in relation to business, tourism, the all-Ireland energy market, agriculture and agri-foods – will be maintained

“It’s about maintaining the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It’s about protecting the rights of citizens in the North, who have a right to Irish citizenship, and therefore to citizenship of the European Union.

“This is the tailored approach that is required. It is the best solution. It would keep all of Ireland within the European Union.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has written to the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton on the back of the publication of the Ombudsman’s report into the murder of Harry Holland. 

The West Belfast MP was speaking after meeting with the family of Harry Holland who raised their concern over emergency response times.

Paul Maskey said:

“On the day Harry Holland was murdered the Upper Springfield Community Safety Forum and the PSNI met, during which concerns were raised about a gang in the area.

“The Safety Forum was assured by the police that they would react with urgency if members of the public reported the gang.

“However, on the night of Harry’s murder two emergency calls were made to the police service at 10.05pm and 11.17pm, both calls mentioned that an armed and dangerous gang were in the area threatening people.

“The first call was downgraded to non-emergency status, a crew did go out for the second call. However questions have been raised over the thoroughness of their search.

“In his report the Ombudsman found that the police failed to adequately respond to a 999 call made on the night that Harry Holland was murdered, stating that they failed to take appropriate steps to respond to the concerns for safety.

“On the back of these findings I have written to the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton asking for a breakdown of emergency response times for West Belfast.

“Our policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly will also follow up with questions to the PSNI. 

“Residents living in working-class communities want to be assured that their complaints are taken seriously.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan MLA has raised concerns over the decision taken by the Department of Health to cut £1m to funding for training specialist nurses.

Pat Sheehan said:

“The cut to training is counter to the transformation agenda set forth by the Professor Bengoa’s Expert Panel report and my Sinn Féin colleague, former Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill. 

“Everyone recognises the clear need to increase the capacity of HSC staff to meet ever-growing demands placed on the health service. Cutting resources for specialist training for nurses goes against this.

“I have particular concerns that the commitments made in Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together plan, namely the allocation of a District Nurse and Health Visitors to every GP practice is being abandoned by the Department of Health. This undermines efforts to deliver multi-disciplinary teams in primary care at a time when GPs are under increasing pressure.

"Furthermore it seems that a central pillar of the transformation process prioritised by Minister O’Neill, which is to involve those who deliver and use HSC services in designing transformation, has been ignored with a decision being made without proper engagement from the department.

"I would encourage the Department of Health to engage meaningfully with nurse and other representative bodies to explore the potential implications before making such a decision." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said today that the British government’s attempt to get the DUP to shore up Theresa May’s administration was making it increasingly difficult to get a resolution in the talks at Stormont.

Conor Murphy said:

“The British government set Thursday 29th June as a statutory deadline to the talks.

“Then they arrested any potential progress by calling an election in the self interest of the Tory Party.

“Since that initiative dramatically backfired they have engaged in negotiations for the past two weeks with the DUP.

“Media speculation suggests the conclusion to this will not be revealed until Thursday 29th June.

“Yesterday the two governments said that the actual deadline for the talks is Tuesday June 27th.

“The British government is content to go through the motions at Stormont but their main focus is elsewhere.

“Given the lack of progress in the Stormont Talks and the lack of knowledge about the impact of any Tory/DUP deal on our public services, on agreements and on the political institutions, Sinn Féin is concerned that time is running out.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow and East Carlow John Brady has said one does not have to look any further than the unfinished works at the Oldcourt estate in Bray to see the sheer hypocrisy of the Government and their sudden concern for fire safety in residential areas.

Speaking this afternoon, Teachta Brady said:

“The horrific scenes from the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London have rightly raised questions as to our own fire safety standards in homes across the State if such an incident was to occur.

“For many, these scenes were a reminder of similar scenes witnessed in the Oldcourt estate of which there are serious fire safety concerns and since a refurbishment scheme in the estate in the mid-1980s, there have been fifteen fires and seven fatalities.

“Despite this, the necessary works to ensure that fire safety measures are put in place in Oldcourt remain incomplete.

“For many years, I had called on Bray Town Council to carry out an independent fire safety audit; this led to €70,000 secured for the audit which commenced in 2005. This was eventually completed in 2007; it was a damning audit. Yet, ten years later, the necessary works have not been fully carried out. This is unacceptable in the extreme.

“Funding had been secured for two initial phases to carry out essential fire safety works which ended in 2015 when funded dried up. It now appears that a reduced amount of funding has been allocated for phase three and questions remain unanswered as to whether works in these homes has been scaled back given the reduced budget.

“While the Government have now committed to a review of all multi-storey residential buildings in the State, older buildings which were later refurbished under refurbishment schemes, such is the case with Oldcourt, must be thoroughly examined for adequate fire safety standards.

“I have sent correspondence to Minister Eoghan Murphy requesting that these homes come under his proposed review. There can be no excuses used by Government when it comes to the safety of all citizens in their homes especially, on financial grounds. Whatever funding is required to ensure that all necessary works at Oldcourt are completed, including works in privately owned homes must be secured.” 

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