Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said today that businesses are gravely concerned about the disastrous impact Brexit will have on our economy.
Michelle Gildernew was speaking after British Secretary of State Karen Bradley visited Quinn Industrial Holdings in Fermanagh.
The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP said:
“Liam McCafferty, the CEO of Quinn Industrial Holdings, told the British Secretary of State today that a return of a hard border on the island of Ireland would be a huge step backwards for the people of this island.
“Mr McCafferty made it clear that the practical implications of a hard border could not be overstated.
“Almost half of local businesses have reported that their costs have already risen and one in ten businesses have set up a presence outside the north, with a fifth of businesses considering doing the same.
“It’s not enough however for the British Secretary of State to simply tick a box by meeting a major employer on the border.
“The British Secretary of State must listen to the needs of people involved in business, in agriculture and in the community and voluntary sectors.
“Her government should respect the democratic wishes of the people of the north who voted to remain in the EU and work to ensure special status for the north within the EU with full access to the customs union and single market
Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has condemned the ongoing oppression of pro-Kurdish and other opposition forces in Turkey,
Mr Maskey said
“Sinn Féin strongly condemn the treatment of political prisoners facing overcrowding, ill-treatment and torture.
Of particular concern is the attempted oppression of the HDP and their democratically elected MPs.
The actions of the Turkish state are unequivocally anti-democratic and unjust.
Last week, Sinn Fein MPs demonstrated outside 10 Downing street against President Erdogan and to reiterate our support for those struggling for human rights, justice and democracy.
A Sinn Féin delegation consisting of Philip McGuigan MLA and Michelle Gildernew MP met with the Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy in relation to prioritising areas with the worst access to broadband.
The party’s infrastructure spokesperson, Philip McGuigan MLA said:
“We told the Permanent Secretary and the Department for the Economy today that areas with the worst access to broadband should be prioritised within a £150m investment to improve broadband coverage.
“Many rural areas such as Fermanagh, Omagh, Mid-Ulster and parts of my own constituency of North Antrim have the highest proportion of homes and businesses without access to superfast broadband.
“By prioritising these areas, it would help meet objective need, promote equality between urban and rural communities, and ensure regionally balanced economic growth.”
The Irish Football Association (IFA) has yet to adequately explain or justify its controversial decision to play the British national anthem at the Irish Cup final earlier this month, Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has said.
The North Belfast MLA was commenting after a Sinn Féin delegation consisting of the party’s two North Belfast MLAs Carál Ní Chuilín and Gerry Kelly and Sinéad Ennis met with the IFA Chief Executive today.
She commented: “Today, we reiterated our concerns regarding the final on May 5th and the IFA’s decision to play the British national anthem in spite of a request from Cliftonville FC not to do so.
“This was a direct reversal of the arrangements that were in place in 2013 when Cliftonville last reached the Irish Cup Final and the anthem was not played. On that occasion, the IFA said they were committed to fostering a ‘politically neutral environment’.
“The decision to reverse that commitment was wrong and sends a clear message to the nationalist community that Windsor Park – a publicly funded stadium – is not for them.”
Sinn Féin Culture, Arts and Sport spokesperson Sinead Ennis MLA added:
“We do not believe that the IFA have adequately explained or justified this decision and they failed to do so again today.
“Sinn Féin are now seeking a meeting with the Board members who took the decision to explain to them first-hand the impact it has had on the wider nationalist community.”
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Karen Mullan MLA has called on the Education Authority (EA) to work with parents and schools to ensure all children are allocated a post-primary place as soon as possible.
The Foyle MLA said: “I am aware from contacts both directly to myself and to Party colleagues that a number of children have yet to receive confirmation of a post-primary place.
“Whilst most children have been awarded a place, and this is to be welcomed, there is now a pressing need to remove the anxiety from both children and parents about where they will be attending school this September.
“I know that some parents will only have put down a limited number of school choices that they wished to see their children attend but in cases where those schools have been fully subscribed then the EA must inform parents of where appropriate places are available.
“We do not have a shortage of places in the post-primary sector and the EA needs to work with parents and schools to get children placed as early as possible.”
Sinn Féin’s anti-ticket touting bill will come before the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation tomorrow, with the Bill’s sponsor Maurice Quinlivan TD welcoming its progress through the legislative stages, and urging all parties to facilitate its progression.
Speaking today the Limerick City TD said;
“I am delighted that the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill 2017 is progressing through the legislative stages, and will be scrutinised by TDs and Senators at the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation tomorrow.
“The issue of ticket touting has been around for many years now, with Jimmy Deenihan TD, first introducing a bill on the issue back in 2005.
"Unfortunately that Bill failed to progress through that Dáil session and nothing has been done to tackle the problem since.
“Almost every time tickets for a match or concert go on sale, the coverage is dominated by frustrated consumers who were unable to buy tickets when they went on sale and some who had to buy tickets at extortionate prices on secondary selling sites.
“Unfortunately the level of touting has escalated into an abuse of the ticketing system, and must be addressed.
"The people most affected by extortionately priced tickets are people often on lower incomes, who don’t have the privilege to be able to pay any amount for a ticket, and so end up being excluded from such cultural events.
“If introduced, this Bill would cap the resale of tickets at 10% above their face value, for large events (where over 300 tickets are to be sold).
"This aims to take the profit out of ticket touting and ensure individuals are not buying up scores of tickets with the sole purpose of re-selling them at huge prices, at the expense of ordinary consumers.
“If a person buys a ticket for a match or a concert, but something comes up and they can no longer attend, they would still be entitled to sell their ticket on, once it does not exceed the 10% above face value cap. I think this strikes a fair balance.
"An exemption is also included for charities to allow them to continue to use tickets as tools for fundraising.
“I have consistently said I am open and willing to work with other Oireachtas colleagues on this issue, and I hope this Committee meeting can facilitate that.
"I would urge all parties to support the bill to allow us to tackle this problem of ticket touting once and for all.”
Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley is vigorously challenging the decision to cease the prescription of medicinal cannabis in the case of Billy Caldwell.
Órfhlaith Begley said:
“I have written to British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt, on four separate occasions, requesting an urgent meeting, alongside Billy’s mother Charlotte Caldwell, to discuss Billy’s case.
“It was our hope that this meeting would explore the best means of ensuring Billy’s medical prescription for both himself and for other cases where it is medically recommended. My office is yet to receive a reply or acknowledgment from Minister Hunt’s Department.
“My office have today issued another request for a meeting.
"I have also written to the British Home Office requesting an explanation as to why they ordered the cessation of prescriptions for Billy’s medical cannabis.
"I also sought an explanation as why this decision has then been taken now. Billy had been receiving this prescription since April 2017. It is my understanding that the Home Office and Health Officials made no objections before now despite being aware that Billy was receiving this medication.
“I have written to the Department of Health Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly to clarify the role of his officials in this decision.
“Sinn Féin's support for medicinal cannabis will always be based on clinical evidence.
"We support the use of medicinal cannabis by patients where it is medically recommended.
“This is a heartless and cruel decision.
“Sinn Féin has always been supportive of Charlotte Caldwell in her selfless unstinting campaign to get life-changing support for her son Billy and others. We will continue to provide whatever support we can in challenging this cruel decision.”
A keynote address by former First Minister Arlene Foster has failed to provide any indication that the DUP is prepared to end its blockage of the power-sharing institutions, Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said.
Describing her speech to a Policy Exchange event in London as a ‘missed opportunity’, the South Belfast MLA said Arlene Foster had produced ‘no new thinking but more of the same old arrogance’.
Máirtín Ó Muelloir added: “Unfortunately, this much-trumpeted speech from Arlene Foster has failed to provide any indication that the DUP is prepared to end its blockage of the power-sharing institutions.
“In her speech, Arlene Foster accused nationalism of being ‘narrow and exclusive’ while lauding unionism as standing for ‘pluralism and multi-culturalism’.
“Quite apart from the arrogance of dismissing the entire nationalist population in this way, Arlene Foster’s comments quite simply don’t stack up to the reality.
“Where is the multi-culturalism for Gaelic speakers who are still being denied equal language rights by the DUP?
“Where is the pluralism for the members of our LGBT community who are still being denied marriage equality by the DUP?
“The DUP collapsed the talks process and reneged on the draft agreement they had negotiated with Sinn Féin rather than agree to the introduction of such basic rights so I fail to see how Arlene Foster intends to rebuild relationships while maintaining that position.
“Her position is also staggering when you consider that Arlene Foster is the same woman who the High Court found had unlawfully prevented grieving families from accessing the basic right of an inquest into the death of their loved ones.
“She is right about one thing however, the issues that led to the collapse of Stormont can be resolved but that will require an end to the DUP’s denial of rights which is preventing power-sharing.
“Unfortunately, the only strategy we have seen from Arlene Foster is to do nothing other than prevent the restoration of the institutions on the basis of equality and there was nothing in her speech to indicate that any new approach is imminent.” CRÍOCH/ENDS
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has responded to false assertions from the NO campaign that so-called “hard-cases” can still be dealt with in the event of a NO vote.
The Dublin-Central TD pointed out that many of those making such assertions campaigned against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill which allowed doctors to intervene when a woman’s life is at risk.
Teachta McDonald said:
“The only way we can help women facing crisis is by returning a YES vote and removing the eighth amendment from the constitution.
“I think it is important in this debate that we deal in fact. I have heard assertions from the NO campaign and its spokespeople that the so-called hard cases – pregnancies as a result of rape or fatal foetal abnormality – can be dealt with under the current constitutional framework. This is patently untrue.
"The very same people making these false assertions themselves campaigned against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill in 2013. This Bill, now widely recognised as being wholly inadequate, allowed doctors to intervene when a woman’s life is at risk; i.e. the bare minimum of care.
"They talked of floodgates opening, abortion becoming widely available and were ultimately proved wrong as they will be in this instance.
“The eighth amendment blocks any action to legislate in this or any other instances. We know this because we tried. Two separate Private Members Bills on these issues were rejected on the advice of the Attorney General.
“There is only one way that we can help women in these circumstances and that is by voting YES on Friday and removing the eighth amendment. To suggest otherwise is to be totally disingenuous.
“It is also important to remember that these are not exceptional or 'hard cases'. They are real women facing devastating circumstances every day in every county. We cannot help them unless we return a YES vote next week.”
Sinn Féin Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA Colm Gildernew has slammed those responsible for vandalising Irish language road signage on the Killyliss Road, Dungannon and Annaghroe, Caledon over the weekend.
Colm Gildernew said:
“This is the latest in a series of attacks on Irish language road signs across South Tyrone. There is no excuse for this type of vandalism and it cannot be tolerated.
“Signage is often subject to a rigorous community process prior to erection, therefore, these attacks fly in the face of people's consent.
“The vandalism of these signs and others in the borough forms part of a campaign of intolerance against the Irish language in recent months in the area, and should be condemned by all.
“There is a need for some in political unionism in particular to show leadership on this issue.
“Unfortunately, this is indicative of the attitude of some in society who show a complete disregard and lack of respect for the Irish identity and further focus the need for protection of Irish Language rights through legislation.
“I have reported these attacks to the PSNI and I am appealing to anyone with information to bring it forward so those responsible can be held to account for these disgraceful crimes.”
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon said today that equality and anti-discrimination laws in the north need to be strengthened.
The party’s equality spokesperson was speaking after a report by the Equality Commission on public awareness around equality issues.
Megan Fearon said:
“I welcome the Commission’s report on awareness of equality.
“It’s concerning that the report has identified ‘a number of groups who were less likely to be aware of the areas and grounds covered by anti-discrimination law’.
“In particular, the report outlines that people over 65 years, people with a limiting disability, those with no qualifications, those living West of the Bann, those with the lowest average household income and people living in rural areas are ‘less aware’ of their rights under anti-discrimination laws.
“The report has also identified that people on an income of less than £15,000 per annum lacked awareness regarding their rights and entitlements to education, accessing public/support and other services; and property.
“In the north we have a number of anti-discrimination laws including laws on; equal treatment; discrimination; equality of opportunity and fair participation. Some of these laws have been in existence for over 20 years.
“However, nearly half of the respondents said that ‘equality and anti-discrimination laws need to be strengthened’ in the north of Ireland.
“At the moment we have no equality act, no bill of rights and there are concerns about the potential for the human rights act to be repealed.
“The report also highlights that the majority of people believe there are benefits to a more equal society and that more needs to be done to promote equality of opportunity.
It is Sinn Féin’s view that more needs to be done to ensure those who are most vulnerable, marginalised, discriminated and isolated can claim their rights and have the support to do so."
Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said today that economic and demographic dynamics make Irish unity a realistic objective and she called for a unity referendum to be held within five years.
The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP was addressing a commemoration held today in London in memory Michael Barrett, a member of the Fenian Brotherhood who was executed after a show trial in May 1868.
Michelle Gildernew said:
“If we are to achieve anything – we have to first convince progressive voices here in Britain of our vision of Irish unity.
“As the English Tories stumble around, trying to devise a strategy to impose Brexit – we as republicans have to translate the appeal of a united Ireland from the emotional to the practical.
“There is a role for people in Britain in this discussion. They must become persuaders for unity.
“We need to harness the power, influence, and expertise of the Irish community living in Britain.
"We are clear - Irish unity makes sense. Political sense. Economic sense.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides a legislative, peaceful and democratic route to achieve this goal.
“Recent economic and demographic dynamics in Ireland make reunification a realistic objective and we are calling for a unity referendum to be held in the next five years.”
Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley said today that Tory minister should respect the democratic wishes of the people of the north in the EU rather recycling proposals already branded as nonsense by the EU.
The West Tyrone MP was speaking after British Brexiteer David Davis sneaked in and out of the north today.
Órfhlaith Begley said:
”The proposals being put forward by David Davies on so-called technological solutions on the border are nothing more than rehashed versions of proposals put forward last August which were dismissed by the EU as fantasy and nonsense.
"The clock is ticking and the British government need to stop wasting time on unworkable notions and deal with the option already on the table for avoiding physical infrastructure at the border through the north remaining in the customs union and single market.
"Rather than sneaking in and out of the north again and meeting behind closed doors, Tory ministers should listen to the views of the people of the north who clearly reject the Tory Brexit and want to remain in the single market and customs union.”
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for the party’s referendum campaign Louise O’Reilly has said that the repeal of the Eighth Amendment is the only way to effectively and compassionately deal with the so-called ‘hard cases’.
The Dublin Fingal TD said that, when faced with cases such as rape or incest, the Eighth Amendment simply caused more harm than good.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The Eighth Amendment is a danger to women. There are no ifs or buts about that. We have seen too many tragic cases from Miss X to Miss P to quibble about whether or not the Eighth should be maintained. It cannot and should not exist within our constitution.
“When it comes to the so-called ‘hard cases’, or to describe them in their true sense, traumatic and life altering events for women, their partners, and their families, the Eighth Amendment has caused pain, further trauma, and has even cost lives. For the traumatised victim of rape, for the devastated pregnant woman who is suffering a miscarriage and is at risk of sepsis, there can be no other solution than the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and guaranteed access to healthcare. Anything else is merely an exacerbation of the trauma they have already experienced.
“Irish women have been failed by the Eighth Amendment and any attempt to build another framework in the restrictive environment it creates will only fail them further.
“Ireland cannot be a place where women’s right to healthcare is weighed against any other factor. Women must be able to have confidence in their ability to receive the care and treatment they need. We need to vote Yes to ensure this right.”
Sinn Féin Leader Mary McDonald TD said today it’s increasingly clear that the British government’s only plan in the north is to do nothing.
The Sinn Féin Leader was speaking in Belfast today before meeting with the party’s six-county council group.
Mary Lou McDonald said:
“Sinn Féin is working for a new society, an inclusive society, a prosperous society, a new and agreed Ireland and a new beginning.
“We made this very clear when we engaged with our unionist counterparts in negotiations.
“Sinn Féin is interested only in progress and scoring wins for everybody.
“I think it is clear the Tory government is in hock to the DUP and has no interest in re-establishing the political institutions.
“The British government’s only plan for the north of Ireland is to sit on their hands, do nothing and to dodge and deny democracy.
“We have told the British government that approach is unacceptable.
“The British Irish Intergovernmental Conference needs to be convened as a matter of absolute urgency as we need a platform to address the outstanding issues to move forward in a good spirit in the interests of all citizens.”
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the move by EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly to refer a Special Report to the European Parliament regarding the Council’s failures when it comes to the transparency and accountability of its legislative processes.
The Ombudsman’s report on its strategic inquiry on the transparency of the Council legislative process was published in February 2018. The inquiry consisted of an inspection of three legislative files, and aimed to give the Ombudsman a general insight into the Council General Secretariat’s practices.
The Ombudsman’s inquiry found that the Council frequently fails to record the positions of Member States in preparatory bodies. Her main recommendations were for the systematic recording of the political positions of Member States, and to end the widespread practice of restricting access to legislative documents while the decision-making process is ongoing through the so-called LIMITE marking.
Mr Carthy said: “The Council failed to respond to the Ombudsman’s report within the three-month deadline for sending a detailed opinion on her recommendations. As a result she has this week referred a special report to the European Parliament.
“The treaties guarantee the right of public access to documents of the EU institutions, with certain exceptions. And EU case law holds that the relevant Regulation aims to ensure public access to the entire content of Council documents including the political positions taken by Member States.
“In the TAX3 and Panama Papers committee, we have often been frustrated by the refusal of the Council to provide us with access to documents that show the positions that Member States take – but it is even more alarming to see in the Ombudsman’s report that the positions of Member States are frequently not even noted in the Council’s own records. Ms O’Reilly informed us this week that, in her investigations, she found the Council frequently does not record the political positions taken by Member States in the Council as a deliberate tactic to prevent public access to this information.
“In my view, this report appears to indicate that the Council is legally in breach of the Regulation governing public access to documents that says the institutions ‘shall develop good administrative practices’ to facilitate the exercise of this right of access.”
Carthy concluded: “Transparency and accountability of the Council’s legislative processes are vital, and the behaviour identified by Ms O’Reilly is a major contributing factor to the democratic deficit in the EU and the disillusionment of many EU citizens. The political positions taken by Member State governments in Council must be transparent so that they can be accountable to citizens in those Member States.”
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday in a debate on his European Communities (Brexit) Bill 2017: Second Stage, Louth TD Gerry Adams addressed the current developments in the Brexit negotiations, including claims that the British will present a new proposal in the next two weeks.
Teachta Adams said:
“I am probably the only Deputy present who campaigned in the North against Brexit. I do not know whether any Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour Deputies were up there.
"I was there. We won. The people of the North voted to remain. That vote needs to be upheld and to form part of what we are considering.
"The Tánaiste rightly stated that there is a need for caution. We know that one cannot trust the Brits.
"That is the reality, speaking in a west Belfast way. I do not mean the British people, the decent people whom I know there with all of the connectedness.
"I have great friends there. When I talk about the Brits, I mean the British Government. One cannot trust them. One certainly cannot trust the Tories.
"On Tuesday, the Tánaiste stated that he was confident that the British Prime Minister would deliver on her commitment to avoid border controls.
"I asked whether that would be by June, but he fudged the answer because he did not know any more than I did whether the Brits would come up with something by then and probably presumed they would not, that they would try to play it right down to the wire and then cobble something together.
"Contrast the Tánaiste's statement with his statement during this debate: 'It is, therefore, more important than ever that the UK engage in a more detailed and realistic way on the draft protocol, including the backstop... in advance of the June European Council meeting'.
"One can only interpret that in west Belfast terms by saying that the UK has not engaged in a detailed and realistic way on the draft protocol, including the backstop, up to this point.
"Contrast that with what the Taoiseach is saying, namely, that the British will table a new proposal on a future customs relationship within the next two weeks and that this is new thinking.
"These are all reasons to be cautious.”