Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has called on the international community to support and encourage Irish unity.
Speaking at a conference in Paris organised by the French Communist Party alongside Raymond McCartney MLA, Mr Kearney said;
"Brexit has once more brought into sharp focus the contradiction of partition at the heart of Irish politics. This directly challenges democracy and Irish national interests.
"However, it has also created an equally unprecedented political and civic discussion in Ireland about the future.
"We believe that these new challenges need to be converted into a positive, national conversation about how the constitutional, political and economic future of the island can be reimagined and redesigned.
"The Irish Government should urgently convene an All-Ireland forum representative of political parties and civic society on the island to agree and bring forward concrete proposals to secure the north of Ireland’s place in the EU.
"The peace process was facilitated and supported by international good will, support and diplomacy and the international community still has an essential role to play.
"A new phase of political change has arrived and the significant strategic political influence of the international community should now assist with planning for the transition towards a new agreed, united Ireland.
"It is time to end the division of Ireland and prepare the transition to Irish unity. A positive, international axis to encourage, persuade for, and support that aim is now required."
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has welcomed an agreement to resolve outstanding parading issues in north Belfast and said that it augurs well for community relations in the area in the future.
The North Belfast MLA said;
"I welcome the agreement between the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association and local Orange lodges to resolve outstanding issues related to contentious parades on the Crumlin Road.
"This agreement shows that inclusive dialogue is the way forward in tackling what can seem to be intractable issues.
“I commend the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) for their commitment and dedication over many years to resolving this difficult situation.
“This agreement deserves the full support of all political representatives in the area.
"It augers well for the future and for future community relations in North Belfast and will help build on the good work that has already been carried out in the area.”
Speaking as Sinn Féin take to the streets in support of the “Rise and Repeal” Rally in Dublin, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O'Reilly.
Deputy O'Reilly said:
“Tens of thousands of people have flooded Dublin in support of the Rise and Repeal campaign; a campaign of various parties, groups and organisations, including Sinn Féin, united in their call for the repeal of the 8th amendment. What is striking is that women and men of all ages have turned out- from those who have been marching since the early 80's t those who have never had their chance to have a say on this important issue.
“There is no doubt that the 8th amendment was not fit for purpose when it was inserted into the constitution, and it i long past it sell by date today.
"It is unacceptable that despite instances of grave, deep personal suffering, tragedy and even fatality, that this flawed amendment remains.
"Even more saddening is the reluctance by the Government to take decisive steps to give the people of this State a say on its future.
“At least 1 million people of voting age now, have never had the chance to take a decision on the inclusion and retention of the 8th Amendment in the Constitution - that is one quarter of the State's population, many of whom will be directly or indirectly effected by it, without a voice on this.
“Sinn Féin has been consistent in the view that the 8th amendment needs to be repealed in order to protect women and to allow for terminations in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities.
"From there, it is the responsibility of us, as legislators, to work with stakeholders to create an alternative that prioritises a woman’s welfare, a woman’s health, a woman’s wellbeing.
"Failure to give people a say on the 8th amendment and to leave it there indefinitely is an abdiacation of responsibility for womens' health and blatant disregard for their welfare.
“It is very clear that action on the eighth amendment cannot wait any longer. There is a groundswell of support for its repeal and the actions of the public- from public murals, clothing lines and today's march- indicate that they want a say on this issue.
"The Government cannot ignore this any longer; they cannot put their heads in the sand; they cannot ignore the will of the people. The people on the streets of Dublin have risen once more and the message is clear - Repeal the 8th Amendment.”
Sinn Féin MLA Sean Lynch welcomed the Infrastructure Minister to Fermanagh yesterday.
Mr Lynch said:
“My party colleague and I visited Waterways Ireland to look at its potential for development.
“We also met with the Ulster Canal Advisory Forum. The Minister has committed to reviewing the Ulster Canal as set out in the Fresh Start Agreement.
“This Forum provides an ideal opportunity for all stakeholders, who are committed to the Ulster Canal project, to work together to maximise the potential to take this project forward and create a place where people want to live, work, visit and invest.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has extended his “warmest congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn on his re-election today as leader of the British Labour Party".
The Sinn Féin leader said:
“Jeremy has been a stalwart friend to Ireland and of the Irish peace process for decades. In that time I have come to know him well.
"I want to extend my warmest congratulations to Jeremy on his resounding win. He faces many challenges in the time ahead in confronting the right wing agenda of the Conservative government, not least in addressing the issue of Brexit.
"I wish him well and look forward to working with him in the time ahead to ensure that the gains of the peace process are built upon.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the agreement reached in North Belfast between the Orange Order and Ardoyne residents to resolve difficulties arising from a dispute around an Orange march on the Crumlin Road.
Gerry Adams said:
“I want to welcome the agreement between the local Orange lodges and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association to resolve the long-running difficulties around the Orange march on the Crumlin Road.
I want to commend the work of the mediators, Rev Harold Good and Jim Roddy, and the leadership of those local lodges and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association who have made this agreement possible.
I also want to thank everyone else who was involved in this process and in particular local Sinn Féin elected representatives who provided support for the residents and leadership in the community.
This progress is evidence that through dialogue and co-operation, and a willingness to resolve difficult disputes, that it is possible to reach agreement.”
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for co-operation among various parties on the issue of a united Ireland.
Mr Carthy remarks were made as he gave the opening address to a debate on 'Nationalism post-Brexit' at the Lighthouse Indian Summer School in Killough, Co. Down.
The debate also heard contributions from Fianna Fåil TD Darragh O'Brien and Carmel Hanna of the SDLP.
During the course of his address Matt Carthy said:
"With the challenges presented by Brexit, there is an onus on all political parties and media outlets to create space for a real debate on the future.
"We need every party, organisation and individual who aspires to see a United Ireland to clearly set out their positions and to bring the debate to the next level.
"The extent to which Brexit has shifted the tectonic plates can be seen in the fact that it has resulted in a Fine Gael Taoiseach talking publicly about the possibility of a United Ireland.
"But Mr Kenny needs to do more than talk in vague terms about the possibility of unity at some undefined point in the future.
"Mr Kenny, his Government and his party must rise above their own historical tendencies and develop a genuinely all-island view.
"The same applies to Fianna Fáil. At the moment, Micheál Martin only ever speaks about the North in the Dáil when seeking to use it to score cheap political points against Gerry Adams. That is simply not good enough anymore.
"Why should unionists move to explore new relationships on this island if the establishment parties in the South are determined to maintain outdated approaches, partitionist attitudes and who see the North merely as a stick with which to beat Sinn Féin?"
Carthy said a new, reimagined, confident and reconciled Ireland was one which was increasingly attractive "young, outward looking people" from a unionist background.
"Young people, on a whole range of social and political issues, are casting off the received attitudes which were the product of decades of sectarian segregation and the dominance of a deeply conservative unionist ideology.
"We have seen this development in terms of the campaign for marriage equality and on other issues in the North."
Mr Carthy said it is now time that all parties, organisations and individuals who support the ideal of a United Ireland, moved beyond rhetoric and into the reality of devising programmes and outreach to achieve this objective.
"Part of this could include efforts to agree all-party approaches on the way forward.
"Those parties represented here today - Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, and the SDLP, should all be open to exploring new ways of governance on this island.
"In the coming weeks, Sinn Féin will publish what I believe will be an important discussion document on this issue.
"Its purpose will be to encourage debate on Irish reunification and to give some shape to the type of new Ireland that is possible.
"Our ideas will not be prescriptive on the shape of a united Ireland nor will it be a comprehensive evaluation of the benefits of unity.
"It seeks to encourage debate and discussion. I would ask the other parties here to do the same.
Sinn Féin's United Ireland campaign is currently seeking to promote debate, discussion and analysis.
We also believe that a referendum on unity is a key part of the process of discussion, of informing, of people coming to conclusions about what they really want for the future of this island."
Mr Carthy said Sinn Féin would welcome any proposals or ideas from any quarter in relation to the peaceful achievement of Irish reunification.
"Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the SDLP all have our major differences on issues of social and economic policy.
"However, on paper at least, all of us are meant to be committed fundamentally to the achievement of Irish reunification.
"Fianna Fáil, in particular, need to get past telling Sinn Féin that "the time is not right" when we call for a unity poll.
"To be frank, lads, you need to come up with better than that – otherwise the public may begin to think that your commitment to Irish unity is a pretence.
"Come up with some ideas, some proposals, at least the outline of some strategy for unity.
"Let us engage genuinely with each other - and then with others - on preparing the ground and taking the necessary practical steps for unity."
The Midlands North West MEP said he genuinely hope that today's event would be the beginning of a process which will see the parties represented share further platforms to discuss and promote a real, inclusive debate on bringing about an agreed, United Ireland.
Sinn Fein TD for Waterford David Cullinane has called on the Government, the HSE and the Department of Health to reaffirm University Hospital Waterford's place as the regional hospital for the Southeast.
He added that this must be in word and practice. Deputy Cullinane was speaking ahead of a rally being held today in Waterford.
Deputy Cullinane said:
"The HSE say that University Hospital Waterford is the regional hospital for the Southeast providing a range of services to the region including cardiac services. However this is only in word but not in practice.
"The selective implementation of the Higgins Report and the reconfiguration of hospital services was a retrograde step for patient safety in the Southeast. It was a realignment that only served to carve up the Southeast for bigger hospitals in Dublin and Cork.
"However to help the medicine go down a number of sweeteners were offered. This included a commitment to enhance cardiology services at Waterford Regional Hospital. The hospital was to be renamed to University Hospital Waterford with the promise of five academic consultant posts. These sweeteners were not worth the paper they were written on.
"I warned at the time that Waterford and the Southeast would have to jealously guard services at the hospital and within the region. I also warned that future service delivery and an expansion of services would become more difficult.
"The expansion of cardiac services at UHW is not a parochial issue. It is a regional issue. It is about the very future of UHW and its place in the region.
"If the Government, the Department and the HSE are serious about UHW serving as the regional hospital it must prove so in deed and in resources. A new terms of reference must be put in place in any new review of cardiology services at UHW.
"The terms of reference must be clear and unambiguous. UHW must become the provider of all emergency and non emergency cardiac care for the people of the Southeast. And this must be accompanied by the additional services required to make this a reality based on clear medical and clinical need.
The delivery of 24/7 emergency cardiac care for patients living in the Southeast must be available in the region and at UHW"
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights David Cullinane TD has criticised the Minister for Transport for his "weak and ineffectual" stance on the Dublin Bus pay dispute and said Shane Ross needs to start taking his responsibilities seriously.
David Cullinane said:
“The response of Transport Minister Shane Ross to the Dublin Bus dispute is as tired and jaded as the clichés he used to prop up his Sunday newspaper columns.
"The strike at Dublin bus is not about cheque books. it is about productivity, and on that issue the workers have delivered.
"It has been eight years since they had a pay rise. They work longer hours and more shifts and have sacrificed a lot in order to get Dublin bus back in profit.
"It is now time for management to meet the unions without precondition and to come to a negotiated settlement that will allow the workers to receive the pay and pension justice they rightfully deserve.
"For his part, Minister Ross needs to face up to his responsibilities as the minister with responsibility for both the strategic direction of public transport and the amount of State funding that is provided to deliver a public service that is an essential part of the infrastructural needs of our capital city.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said it is clear the claims made in a Spotlight broadcast in relation to Gerry Adams are nonsense.
Mr Kelly said;
"Sinn Féin made it clear that the claims made in the Spotlight broadcast were total rubbish and utterly without foundation.
"Now the Donaldson family's solicitor has said that after a meeting with An Garda Siochána that they made it clear to him that the claims made in the broadcast are totally at odds with their investigation.
"The reality is that anti-peace process republicans claimed responsibility for the killing of Denis Donaldson in the full glare of the media. That has been the line of investigation pursued by A Garda Siochana for the last ten years.
"Those who seized upon these ludicrous and unsupported claims in an effort to make political gains would do well to take note of today's reports and remember that there is a grieving family at the heart of this."
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Kenny TD has said Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must appear before the Oireachtas Joont Committe on Agriculture to explain tge circumstances of the reappointment of the CEO of Horse Racing Irekand.
Martin Kenny said:
“I have already submitted a list of Parliamentary Questions regarding the reappointment of the CEO Horse Racing Ireland for a third term, despite guidelines stipulating a maximum of two terms. I have not yet received a response to these questions.
“However, following reports on RTE today that the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform had both been misled regarding the role of the board of the HRI in the re-appointment, I have requested that Minister Creed come before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture along with representatives of the board of HRI to update us on the current situation.
"It seems that the CEO of HRI is being paid well above the recommended limit for such a position and that this is his third term, despite guidelines to the contrary.
“This is not new politics but old-style cronyism and citizens are fed up of hearing about this kind of jobs-for-the-boys situation.
"In the interests of public confidence and transparency, Michael Creed must inform the members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee of the background to this situation and the current state of play and I have contacted the clerk of the committee in this regard this evening."
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy hosted an event today in the Dublin entitled ‘Tax justice, not tax havens’, featuring author and Tax Justice Network representative Nicholas Shaxson. Sinn Féin Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir addressed the event along with Trinity Finance Professor Jim Stewart.
Representatives from Oxfam, Christian Aid, ATTAC Ireland, Trócaire, the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, Action Aid, Comhlámh and others attended, taking part in a roundtable discussion.
Addressing the meeting, Matt Carthy said:
“It’s clear after the Apple case that what was once the central plank of the Irish state’s industrial strategy – attracting FDI through our corporate tax regime – could soon become a liability as we continue to build a reputation throughout the world as a state that facilitates massive tax avoidance by multinational corporations.
As pressure on this matter intensifies corporations are likely to seek to avoid being associated with any state with a poor reputation in the field of tax policy. We need to ensure that we do not find ourselves positioned on the wrong side of this debate."
Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane said proactive steps must be taken to encourage more women into politics and roles of leadership.
Speaking before attending the International Conference on ‘Women and Leadership in a Changing World’ at Queen’s University Belfast, Ms Ruane said:
“We require real proactive steps to support women to enter and advance in political and public life.
“In recent years many strides have been made to promote the role of women in politics and public life, but more work needs to be done.
"Unfortunately outdated sexist attitudes still exist, these can prevent women from getting involved in political and public life.
“I would like to pay tribute to the work currently being done by Queen’s University Gender Initiative and the Centre for the Advancement of Women in Politics to challenge these attitudes.
“Such attitudes need to be changed and we must continue to challenge them.
"Sinn Féin is committed to achieving equality of representation and has submitted a bill for consideration on increasing the number of women in politics through gender equality quotas at local government elections to the Assembly.
“We need a genuine step-change and not just an exercise in paying lip service to gender equality.
“True and meaningful gender equality can only be achieved when the remaining barriers and obstacles are removed.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said the NAMA Commission of Investigation must be wider than Project Eagle and should look into the full operation NAMA and its relationship with the Department of Finance and Government Ministers.
Teachta Adams today made a submission to the Taoiseach’s Department on the terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation into NAMA dealings.
Speaking this afternoon he said;
“Sinn Féin has consistently raised concerns about the operation and culture of secrecy of NAMA. At all times both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have sided with NAMA and prevaricated on the demand for greater transparency.
“The recent allegations of insider dealing and the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General report into the disposal of the Northern Loan Book have left these parties with no place to hide.
“There is a need to get to the truth of the operation of NAMA in the North and the scale of the losses passed on to tax payers. However we need to be assured that the malpractice, conflicts of interest and insider dealing at the heart of the northern allegations is not ongoing in other sales.
“That is why we need a full Commission of Investigation into the operation of NAMA which continues to sell off assets and into the relationship between NAMA, the department and Ministers.”
Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has called on the Minister for Education Richard Bruton to address the cost of school books in this year’s budget after it has emerged that just over half of all secondary schools in County Wicklow provide the School Book Rental Scheme.
Teachta Brady was commenting on figures released by the Department of Education and Skills which give a county breakdown of the number of schools that operate the school book rental scheme.
Teachta Brady said:
“We have seen from recent surveys carried out by Barnardos and the Irish League of Credit Unions that the cost of school books remains one of the significant costs of sending children back to school.
“Figures released by the Department of Education show clearly that there is an uneven spread of school book rental schemes in secondary schools across the state.
“In Wicklow, just 52% of secondary schools operate a book rental scheme while 100% of secondary schools in Leitrim do so.
“At primary level, 95% of primary schools in County Wicklow provide the School Book Rental Scheme. This is very welcome and without doubt, assists many parents in some way with back to school costs.
“While we need to see a greater increase in the uptake of the School Book Rental Scheme across the State, there are other issues the Government need to address. The continuous updates and newly revised editions of textbooks as well as the addition of workbooks in many subjects which cannot be reused are adding costs. This is an issue that must be tackled.
“The Government must tackle increasing school costs in Budget 2017.
“Sinn Féin has called for an increase of 30% in the School Books Grant at an approximate cost of €5 million in order to make affordable school books more accessible to students.”
Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan has described continued Government inaction in the face of the ongoing industrial action by Dublin Bus drivers as ‘unacceptable’, saying that no worker considers strike action lightly and only ever as a last resort.
Ms Boylan said:
“While the people of Dublin are of course disadvantaged by the strike action, Dublin Bus drivers like any other workers are entitled to take industrial action and do so as a last resort. Dublin Bus drivers do not live in isolation; they too have commuting families who are affected by this industrial action.
“Minister Shane Ross may not wish to be a 'sugar daddy' for the bus drivers but that does not absolve him of a duty of care to the travelling public. His 'Where’s Wally' approach to this dispute is not going to wash with commuters. He, as Minister for Transport, is the shareholder in Dublin Bus. He must politically intervene and insist that a mediator is put in place between workers and management.
“The media smear campaign against the strike is in full swing with tales of traffic gridlock and businesses losing revenue. None of this takes into account that no worker takes strike action lightly. There is financial cost to workers when they withdraw their labour.
“Sinn Féin and I stand with the bus drivers in their action. We hope that Minister Ross stops hiding and instead offers some constructive assistance in the matter before the ultimate resort of all-out action is required. The people of Dublin would like to see some leadership at this time.”
Sinn Féin MLA, Pat Sheehan, has welcomed the ending of a hunger strike by three Palestinian prisoners, Mahmoud Al-Balboul, Malik Al-Qadi and Mohammed Al-Balboul, and has called on the Israeli government to immediately release them.
The hunger strikers had demanded an end to the Israeli policy of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
A deal has been reached that will ensure that the prisoners administrative detention orders are not renewed or extended.
'The lives of the Palestinian prisoners were in grave danger. Their health was deteriorating rapidly. I welcome the negotiations that have seen the three prisoners receive assurances that their administrative detention will not be renewed or extended.
'Israel needs to end their oppressive actions against the Palestinian people, including their policy of Administrative Detention. Israeli aggressive actions are only enflaming and prolonging the conflict. There is a responsibility on the International community to not only highlight but act against such aggression. The weight of world public opinion must be brought to bear on the Israeli administration.
'Sinn Féin demands the immediate release of these Palestinian prisoners, the end of Administrative Detention policy, and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle for freedom and statehood.'
Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has welcomed the launch of online Blue Badge application forms.
The Party’s Disability spokesperson said:
“I welcome the decision by my colleague Chris Hazzard to launch a new online application form for Blue Badges.
“With around 200 applications every day for new and renewal badges this scheme will make it much easier for those applying for Blue Badges and help relive the current backlog.
“The new online facility will help make the turnaround quicker so I would urge people to apply online if they are in a position to do so by going to https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/apply-or-renew-blue-badge.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has called on the public to support tomorrow’s Rise and Repeal Rally in Dublin, saying that the eighth Amendment has created a dangerous space for women in Irish society. The Dublin Central TD also said that the heightened public debate was healthy as there was a lot of misinformation in the discussion such as the notion that removal of the Eighth would create a legal vacuum.
Speaking today Deputy McDonald said;
“The 8th Amendment to the constitution has caused hardship and suffering for women since it was first introduced. The Eighth Amendment has created a dangerous space in Irish society for Irish women and has tragically cost lives.
“Sinn Féin’s view is that it needs to be repealed in order to protect women and to allow for terminations in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities. It is then the duty of legislators to work with stakeholders to create an alternative that prioritises a woman’s welfare, a woman’s health, a woman’s wellbeing. The Eighth Amendment does not consider any of those.
“We are fully behind the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment and Sinn Féin will be marching tomorrow behind the coalition to repeal’s banner. The heightened public debate is a step forward for Irish society and a progressive one. There has been too much misinformation in the public discourse such as the notion that removal of the Eighth would create a legal vacuum; this is not the case.
“Debate and discussion is the only progressive way to deal with any issue and the conversation in Ireland has been avoided for too long.
“I am calling on men and women to come out in huge numbers to support the repeal campaign.”
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD has called for a full review of the HSE National Ambulance Service fleet following the tragedy of a death of a patient and serious injury to two paramedics at Naas General Hospital.
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“As Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the family of the patient who lost his life yesterday. Similarly, we must not forget that two paramedics were injured in the exercise of their duties, and I wish them well on their recovery.
“What happened yesterday was a tragedy and now it is pivotal that not only are the exact circumstances and causes investigated fully, they must be communicated fully to paramedics, their representatives and officials in the Department.
“Those who work in this service cannot be left in the dark on the cause of this tragedy and the circumstances that led to this tragic incident. Indeed, I understand that unions and ambulance representatives expressed concerns previously on other similar incidents, with little official follow-up or investigation.
“It is critical now at this time that while a full forensic and technical examination is carried out of this particular incident, a full review is carried out on the entire ambulance fleet. The paramedics and personnel want to ensure quality of care and patient safety and this cannot happen if there are potential defects in the vehicles, or equipment, currently in use in the service.
“We recognise that the paramedics in our health service are working under growing pressure, with rising numbers and increasingly complex callouts and it is vital that potential defects or accidents do not bear heavy on their minds, when carrying out their important role.”