Sinn Féin spokesperson on Heritage, Peadar Tóibín TD, has commented on the government’s failure to submit their appeal in time against the High Court judgement protecting Moore Street from demolition.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“The government were supposed to have submitted their appeal against the High Court judgement on Moore Street yesterday, but they have missed the deadline. This follows on from a three month extension on the appeal which was granted to them on the 18th of September.
“It strikes me as highly unusual that they have not yet submitted the appeal. It would appear that they don’t actually know what they are appealing – hence the delay. This is despite the government having deployed a huge legal team, estimated to consist of up to 12 barristers, to pick holes in the case.
“The entire decision by the government to take the case to the High Court for the demolition of our National Monument in the first instance was abhorrent. The appeal is a further outrage. What’s more, it is at a massive financial cost to the Irish taxpayer.
“Estimated millions have already been spent on this case – money that could have put to better use – for the purchase of the Pearse surrender letter as a case in point. Surely now is an opportune time for the government to withdraw the appeal and allow Moore Street to develop as a cultural quarter befitting of it’s iconic and historic status.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has said that the Government’s amendment to his Dáil motion on Pensions was seen for what it was and that has led to the Government’s defeat.
Sinn Féin have put the real issues around pensions on the political agenda and given a voice to the thousands of people affected by Government inaction on pensions. Sinn Féin have also ensured that the issue of Pensions is on the work programme for the Social Protection Committee which meets to discuss this issue next week.
Speaking after the vote, Teachta Brady said:
“The Government amendment put to Sinn Fein’s motion on Pension Equality & Fairness was completely irrelevant to the issues addressed in the motion.
“The Government’s amendment failed to address the core issues that Sinn Féin had sought to tackle in our pensions system.
“This motion was about fairness and equality. It was about fairness for those obliged to retire at 65 in accessing their State Pension as oppose to signing on for Jobseekers. It was about equality for women giving them an equal pension to men in tackling the 37% pension gender gap.
“Fine Gael TDs were like rabbits in headlights when it came to voting on our motion today.
“Fianna Fáil’s amendment which was passed was bizarre. The majority of Fianna Fáil TDs have highlighted the inconsistencies within the pension system particularly, the gender pension gap of 37% and the impact this is having on women. Yet, when it came to taking action on this matter, Fianna Fáil has failed to do so.
“A clear message has gone out today to thousands of people particularly, women that have been impacted by changes to pension bands and rates made in 2012 and the 5,075 men and women forced onto Jobseekers on retirement.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil know the issues, they shout about them and cry crocodile tears for those affected but they are not willing to do anything about it. Hopefully, now that Fianna Fáil has eventually found the courage to vote against Fine Gael, voting in line with Sinn Féin on important matters, they might start a new trend for themselves.”
One of the best ways of keeping people from reaching crisis point is to equip them with the skills to cope with life’s more difficult challenges such as relationship break up, bereavement, redundancy, exam pressure, and so forth.
That was the key message from Health Minister Michelle O’Neill as she visited the newly refurbished Lenadoon Community Counselling Service in west Belfast.
Established in 1998, Lenadoon Community Counselling provides counselling services to young people and adults aged from 14 years old. Counselling is by appointment and takes place after an initial assessment is carried out by a counsellor.
The Minister said:
“We must bear in mind why services such as those provided by Lenadoon Community Counselling are so vital.
“The fact is that there are too many tragic deaths by suicide in this area and in the north of Ireland as a whole.
“Many more people die by suicide here per year than die in road traffic accidents. Each loss leaves behind grieving families and friends. All sudden deaths are difficult to come to terms with, but bereavement through suicide is particularly traumatic.
“In the north of Ireland, the suicide rate in the 20 percent most deprived areas is three times higher than in the 20 percent least deprived areas. The association between suicide and deprivation is very clear. That is why it is so important to have the necessary services located in the areas where people are most in need of them.”
The Minister concluded:
“We all have times in our lives when we feel like we can’t cope. You might think that things are not going to get better and that no-one else has ever experienced what you are going through. If you are feeling like this, you should know that you are not alone. Talking can help so speak to a friend, family member, your GP or a counsellor and get the help and advice you need.”
Addressing business leaders in Boston today, Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the US has a key role to play in continuing to support economic development and the next phase of the peace process.
Speaking at an Irish American Partnership BUSINESS event, the Minister said:
“US support over the past two decades has played a key role in supporting our economy and a successful peace process. The challenge facing the Executive is to continue to build the peace through economic and political progress to deliver the shared and prosperous society we all envisage. I am confident we can do with the continued support of Irish America.
“Over my two day visit to Boston, I will meet key business government and political representatives to urge a fresh start to the mutually beneficial relationship between our people and the diaspora. Boston is at the capital of Irish America. I was proud to sign the sister city agreement with Boston in 2014 when I was first citizen of Belfast. I look forward to meeting with Boston’s outstanding Irish American Mayor Marty Walsh."
During his visit, Minister Ó Muilleoir will meet with the Mayor of Boston Martin J Walsh, Massachusetts Comptroller Thomas G. Shack III Esq, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Senator Michael F Rush and Representative Daniel J Ryan.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action and the Environment outlined the need for a “Step change” in how Ireland tackles climate change.
Deputy Stanley stated:
“We in Sinn Féin have been consistently concerned with the inadequate approach the Irish Government has taken towards tackling climate change in recent years. We welcome the Ministers delivery of the Annual Transition Statement today.”
“However as we have stated in the past, successive Ministers for the Environment have perpetually failed to follow up statements and plans with tangible delivery.
“We have seen in the past how the Irish Government has made numerous platitudes to tackle Climate Change, however when it comes to action we continuously fall short. Ireland is certain to miss its EU 2020 target of 16% total consumption of energy from renewables.
“The biggest factor in reducing emissions in Ireland over the past decade was the economic crash as opposed to any environmental initiatives taken by our government.
“A recent EPA report has estimated that emissions in 2015 are projected to be 3.7% higher than in 2014, indicating that the economic state of the country is still dictating our carbon footprint.”
“Ireland still heavily relies on fossil fuel for its energy supply, with 85% of total supply currently being imported. In order to tackle climate change, Ireland must produce its own energy from renewable sources.
“A key weakness in Irelands approach to tackling climate change has been successive Governments failures to diversify Irelands generation of electricity to renewable sources. There is scope for encouraging the development of further Solar, Hydro, Wave and Tidal energy output on this island.”
“However the approach so far has been an over reliance on large scale Wind Turbine developments, originally designed for producing energy for export.
“Sinn Féin believes that the best way to develop renewable energy is in conjunction with communities and the Semi-State sector.
“The future of electricity generation in Ireland will not be a handful of large generation plants, but hundreds or even thousands of smaller generation projects.
“Microgeneration is an area that the current government have yet to take seriously. Microgeneration not only encourages household to become energy conscious citizens, it also aids in reducing the price of a family’s electricity and heating bills.
“The potential economic consequences for Ireland not meeting its targets could be severe. It has been estimated that Ireland could be hit with a bill of up to €610 Million for breaching our 2020 renewable energy and emissions targets."
Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has welcomed news that Castlederg police station is to be sold.
The West Tyrone MLA said;
"At today's meeting of the Policing Board it was announced that 12 police stations will be sold off, including Castlederg station.
"Sinn Féin has long campaigned for the removal of this station, which has been a massive drain on the public purse.
"This militarised barracks, which has been laying empty, contributes nothing to civic and accountable policing in Castlederg.
"Now that this site is being sold I would like to see it being used in a way that enhances and develops the local community in the village."
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has officially launched online services for booking GP appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions from GP Practices
The Minister visited Grove Wellbeing Centre in Belfast to see how accessing services online can help improve patient experience and reduce bureaucracy in primary care services.
The Health and Social Care Board has been working with NI Direct to expand public facing online services and make them more readily available to citizens of the north of Ireland. Booking a GP appointment and ordering repeat prescriptions online are now available from 200 of 344 GP Practices in the north.
Speaking at the official launch of the initiatives the Minister said: “I am delighted to be here today to hear and see how new services to allow people to book GP appointments and order repeat prescriptions online are helping to make life easier for patients – providing extra convenience and choice about how they interact with the surgery, whilst also helping to reduce paperwork for staff.
“As I set out in ‘Health and Wellbeing 2016 - Delivering Together’, modern information technology offers us tremendous potential to improve how we interact with people to improve services for them. It will not only be more convenient for patients but will also save GP practices time and resources in dealing with appointment booking and repeat prescriptions.
“Since April 2016, 93,910 GP appointments have been booked and 547,715 prescriptions have been ordered online. In October 2016, 14,125 GP practice appointments were booked online - an increase of almost 1,900 from August 2016. In October 2016, 79,981 repeat prescriptions were ordered online – which is slightly over 17% of the total prescriptions issued by GPs each month. It is clear these services are needed and well used already, so this expansion is particularly welcome. Since my appointment as Health Minister I have continually urged the health service to seek out what works well and replicate it where possible – this is a perfect example and I would encourage people to actively use the facility where possible.”
Through nidirect: www.nidirect.gov.uk/gp - people can search for their GP practice, identify if it provides online booking and / or a repeat prescription service and then click through to a Patient Access portal and securely logon to use the service. Patients need to register to use the Patient Access Service through their GP Practice.
The Minister acknowledged and commended the work of all those involved in the development of the services. She continued: “These services are just part of a wider approach to making better use of technology which will impact positively on patients and service users. This new way of doing things, which is underpinned by the ehealth and care strategy, is a key element of my vision for the future of our health and social care services. This is improvement and modernisation in action.”
Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said there needs to be an end now to inefficient and risk averse practices that lead to lengthy delays in disclosure to legacy inquests.
Speaking after a report by Criminal Justice Inspection, Ms Dillon said;
"This report from the Criminal Justice Inspection highlights the role of the PSNI and other agencies in delaying and complicating the release of information to legacy inquests.
“The report makes clear that ‘the processes leading to disclosure are unwieldy and trust among the various parties is in short supply’ and also that ‘delay was commonplace, occurred across the whole spectrum of stakeholders involved, and was sometimes protracted’.
"This is what Sinn Féin has been saying all along. It is ridiculous, for example, that information is being classed as confidential and sensitive despite the fact that it is already in the public domain.
“The number of different layers involved in deciding to blank out certain parts of documents is also something that needs urgent attention. Not to mention the crazy situation that where six documents contain the same piece of information each of the six documents undergo that complicated process.
“The report also makes clear that deadlines were often missed with no explanation provided by those responsible and that there was no sanction available.
“Is it any wonder that families have been left waiting again and again while legacy inquests are delayed for the umpteenth time? This has to stop.
“The report outlines seven key recommendations all of which should be implemented expeditiously.
“The British government also needs to ensure that their Ministry of Defence change the practices that also lead to considerable delays.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly MLA has called on the Irish government to bring pressure to bear on the British government on its responsibilities to address the legacy of the conflict.
Speaking in response to a statement from the Irish government Gerry Kelly said:
"At a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg the Irish government discussed the need to address the legacy of the conflict here and, in particular, raised the case of the murder of Pat Finucane.
"I welcome the fact that the Irish government has restated its commitment to support an inquiry into the Pat Finucane murder.
"Sinn Féin has tried on eleven occasions this year to engage the British government in a serious negotiation on dealing with the legacy of the past but they have refused, just as they have refused to release funding for legacy inquests, as requested by the Lord Chief Justice.
"We want to see the implementation of the mechanisms set out in the Stormont House Agreement in a human rights compliant manner but that requires a step-change from the British government.
"The Irish government now has a role to play in putting pressure on the British government to fulfil its responsibilities and international obligations on addressing the legacy of the past."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has urged TDs to support the Dáil motion on pensions being voted on today.
Teachta Brady said:
“This motion is about fairness and equality. It is about fairness for those obliged to retire at 65 in accessing their State Pension as oppose to signing on for Jobseekers. It is about equality for women giving them an equal pension to men.
“During the debate on this motion yesterday evening, there was an acknowledgement across all parties that women are currently discriminated against when it comes to receiving a full State Pension. If TDs believe that this discrimination needs to end then this motion should be supported.
“There was also agreement that the current pension system is dysfunctional and needs a huge overhaul. I would therefore, call on the Department to postpone further increases in the State Pension age. The Government were not sufficiently prepared for the increase to 66 and they most definitely are not prepared for 67 and then 68. The pension age should not extend to 68 years unless done as part of an EU-wide initiative.
“The argument by Minister Varadkar that we cannot afford the proposals in this motion is not good enough nor is it true. In our alternative Budget this year, Sinn Féin included the restoration of pension band rates to their pre 2012 position at a cost of €50 million as well as the restoration of the Transitional State Pension at a cost of €78 million.
“The thousands of people particularly, women that have been impacted by changes to pension bands and rates made in 2012, the 47,000 women still paying the price for the marriage bar imposed on them and the 5,075 men and women forced onto Jobseekers on retirement will be watching this vote today.
“This motion is about fairness and equality for these people and the message sent out by this vote today will send a very clear message to these people.”
Speaking this morning in the aftermath of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee vote to reject CETA, Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan called it a victory for intelligent trade, common sense, and democracy.
MEP Boylan said:
“The vote this morning in the EMPL Committee has shown that there is widespread opposition to this trade deal across the EU. Those MEPs who voted this morning to call on the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to recommend that Parliament decline to give its consent to the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of CETA came from across the EU and from across the political spectrum.
“The vote proves that there is widespread discontent and opposition to CETA from the left, the right, and the centre in the European Parliament.
“This vote and opposition to CETA is not about being anti-trade, it is about supporting intelligent-trade, trade that benefits Ireland and the EU. Trading relationships should always be intelligent and they must be based on must be decent job creation, balanced wage increases, expanded opportunities for SMEs and foster entrepreneurship.
“Yet, the empirical evidence showed that CETA did none of this. Evidence based on real-world models indicates at best marginal overall increases for EU employment of no more than 0.018% over a 6 to 10 year implementation period. Furthermore, recent studies using such models have forecast actual job losses of 204 000 for the EU as a whole, including significant economic sectorial losses and dislocations in Ireland, not least the beef industry.
“In relation to wages, CETA is not the rising tide that will lift all boats; evidence in this regard shows that the agreement would contribute to widening the incomes gap between unskilled and skilled workers thus increasing inequalities and social tensions.
“Furthermore, the CETA agreement will do nothing to support SMEs. It contains not a single chapter with specific measures to support SMEs. There are currently 20.9 million EU SMEs with only 619 000 exporting outside the EU. CETA will expose these SMEs to competition from large North American transnational corporations thus endangering the 90 million jobs that they are providing.
“Therefore, what is the purpose of CETA? CETA is a corporate trade agreement that places the rights of transnational corporations and profits ahead of people. The undemocratic and privileged status accorded to investors through the Investor Court System where transnational corporations can sue governments for measures that lead to a loss of profit is stark evidence of this fact.
“People power can still defeat CETA and similar unintelligent trade agreements; therefore it is imperative that people call on their local politicians, MEPs, TDs, Senators, and Councillors and encourage them to see sense and actively campaign against this trade deal.”
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Fingal has this morning been elected Vice Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health.
Speaking after her election, Deputy O’Reilly said:
“As a former member of the National Joint Council of the Health Service for many years, I am honoured to be elected Vice Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health. As someone who has worked with health workers for many years, I am especially keen, as part of my new role, in ensuring that the Oireachtas committee hear from staff and their representatives on our deliberations on health policy and the legislative process.
"While the committee has been operational for a number of months, the work plan is constantly under review and I hope that, working with Dr Michael Harty TD, the secretariat and the other committee members, I can play a constructive role in ensuring that any and all Government health policy decisions are scrutinised to ensure the best possible outcomes for people.
"Coming from a background representing health workers, as well as representing the fastest growing county in Ireland, I am cognisant of the demographic pressures, the under capacity of the Health service and the creeping threats that privatisation bears for the future of our health system. That is why, as well as ensuring all legislation is examined, I will be advocating for further thorough policy engagement with the minister, the HSE, unions, NGOs and others involved in health.
"Policy decisions bear enormous importance on our people and I believe the committees have a role in ensuring fairness, openness and transparency.
"I wish to thank my fellow committee members for their support in putting Me in this position and I look forward to continue my work with them in my new role."
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has hosted leading economists from across Europe in a conference in Brussels titled 'EU peripheral economies: From austerity to sustainable growth'. Academics and economists from Ireland, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Britain and Belgium spoke at the event, including Prof Jim Stewart from Trinity College Dublin. The Sinn Féin MEP organised the conference in collaboration with the GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament.
Speaking after the event, Carthy said:
“The urgent dilemma we are facing is Europe’s failure to fulfil the promises it has made to its citizens. EU leaders have promised jobs, growth, social inclusion and economic cohesion, and they have failed to deliver on all fronts, causing deep discontent. The failed euro policies of internal devaluation by cuts to wages, welfare and pensions, and increases in regressive taxation along with the macro-economic straitjacket of the Stability and Growth Pact are the recipe for an economic and social disaster.
“The Eurogroup continues to inflict savage austerity on Greece, and their insistence this week that European labour rights do not need to apply to Greek workers demonstrates the dangerous attitude of the EU leaders."
Carthy, a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, continued:
“At the same time as the Stability and Growth Pact blocks national governments from investing in their own infrastructure and public services, we have the so-called Juncker investment plan which has proven to be a total failure.
“The Juncker plan, or the European Fund for Strategic Investment, actually provides hardly any new additional funding for investment in Europe but is made up of redirected funds from existing areas in the EU Budget.
"It aims to encourage banks and insurers to invest in infrastructure with the risk borne by taxpayers, a strategy described by one of our speakers as 'Trumponomics'. Not only has this plan failed to generate growth, it directly contributes to the creeping privatisation of public infrastructure and services.
“We urgently need to respond to the warnings sounded by academics, economists and historians that if we do not change direction from austerity to sustainable growth then the economic crisis may become a crisis of democracy the likes of which Europe experienced 80 years ago.”
Speaking today after the European Commission announced that it would not after all re-write or weaken key EU biodiversity protection, Boylan said,
“The Birds and Habitats Directives are crucial pieces of biodiversity legislation which help protect the environment and endangered species. Unfortunately, for the past few years, the European Commission has allowed the sword of Damocles to dangle over them as potential targets for a lighter touch form of regulation.
“Thankfully, due to the continued pressure from environmental organisations, political representatives and the half a million concerned citizens who petitioned the EU executive, the European Commission has now had to row back on this threat and confirm that it will not be trying to tinker with them.
“Whilst such vital nature protection laws should not have been targets in the first place, it is to be welcomed that the European Commission has now recognised their importance too. It is now a question of looking at how we better implement and enforce them to ensure a higher level of protection for nature which is continually under threat.”
Sinn Féin TD Denise Mitchell has said that the current pension inequality for women needs to end and that the government must act to resolve the issue.
Deputy Mitchell was speaking on a Sinn Féin Motion in the Dáil on the matter this evening.
“Sinn Féin brought this motion forward because of this Government’s failure to act on the gross and blatant pension inequality that will see the numbers of people affected grow year on year, and they are predominantly women.
“The horrifying situation is that because of the way averaging works women who had left the workforce to care for children or for elderly relatives are then cynically penalised and receive less of a pension by this Government on retirement. This needs to be reversed.
“Age Action Ireland and the National Women’s Council of Ireland have urged all TD’s to support this Sinn Féin Motion. The Government Parties need to take a generation of women in from the cold. It would be an action well remembered by those currently suffering, and those who will suffer in the future if they fail to act.”
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has called on the government to reduce the number of contributions needed to qualify for state pension eligibility from 520 to 260. Speaking in the Dáil during debate on the Sinn Féin motion to restore pre2012 pension rates and bands Deputy Quinlivan said
“Central to all of this is the notion of pension and labour market equality for women.
“In a 2007 report called “Pensions What Women Want” the National Women’s Council repeatedly emphasised the need to engender the Irish pension debate.
“Policy decisions taken in 2012 by Labour Party Minister Joan Burton have meant thousands of women are now actively discriminated against on the basis of their gender.
“Joan Burton’s 2012 policy was both gender and class blind.
“It failed to take into account the fact that for most women childbirth, caring and homemaking take up huge parts of their adult lives requiring them to move in and out of the labour market.
“The 2012 changes to the state’s pension regime resemble something from another era where women’s work inside the home is rendered invisible and of less value then participation in a male dominated labour market.
“The recommendations in the Sinn Féin PMB seek as a first step to address this inequality.
“At the very least such changes would also be beneficial for the many low income groups who experience cumulative labour market disadvantage and a high risk of poverty in old age.
“The report from the Low Pay Commission on the over concentration of women in precarious work - this means low pay, uncertain hours and exploitation, is now before cabinet.
“In the context of the pension’s debate the government need to recognise the link between the structure of the labour market, the social welfare regime and the increasing feminisation of poverty”.
Speaking today during the debate on the Sinn Féin motion on Pension Equality and Fairness Sinn Féin's Spokesperson on Childcare Kathleen Funchion said that
"As a woman, the issue of the shocking gender pension gap in this State leaps out to me. It’s also a critical issue for many women in my constituency who feel they are being discriminated against for caring for either their children or other relatives in need of care.
"On a very basic level, let’s consider the cost of childcare in this state - and how that impacts a woman’s capacity to remain in the workforce. We live in a society where the cost of childcare can be the cost of a second mortgage. For parents with several children, the cost for most families is completely out of reach. Understandably, a parent, often the woman, leaves her job to become the primary caregiver. Yes, this a preferred choice for many. For others, it’s not. Regardless of the preference, these women should not be then penalised via pension payments and contributions once returning to the workforce.
"I acknowledge some effort have been made through a certain amount of credits being allocated. But the reality is many women still have to sign onto the dole upon retirement and have a reduced pension.
"The gender pension gap in this state is 37%, the fifth highest pension gap in the whole of the EU. Only 18% of those receiving the full contributory pension are women. This is shocking.
"Our motion is an effort to correct the Pension reforms made in 2012 which hit women unfairly.
"It’s not bad enough that the gender pay gap is around 14%, but to think the pension gap is knocking on the door of 40% is atrocious.
"Women who have worked their whole lives, or indeed, who are still working deserve fair and appropriate provision for later in life. Women contribute an enormous amount to the workforce and wider society. It is pitiful that we have to come to this where we feel we have to fight for basic equality on pension rights, often after a lifetime of commitment to employment
"It’s past the time of us all being shocked - and offering words of solidarity with women. If we are truly serious about equal rights, and women’s rights, then other parties should support this motion.
Let me begin by saying once again that the shooting of Brian Stack was wrong.
It was a grievous loss for his family and should never have happened.
In the absence of the two governments agreeing to a process to deal with the past I sought to try and assist the family of Brian Stack to gain a degree of acknowledgement and closure.
I did so at their request.
What has happened over the last year points up the challenges of this course of action and the urgent need for a proper legacy process to be established.
For the record I will again set out the sequence of events and my efforts to assist the family of Brian Stack.
Austin Stack approached me in 2013 seeking acknowledgment for what happened to his father.
I met Austin Stack a number of times over the course of the following months, mostly on my own.
Austin and Oliver Stack made it clear to me personally and said publicly that they were not looking for people to go to gaol.
They wanted acknowledgement and closure.
There is a note of that initial meeting,
I am releasing that today.
The computer stamp shows that this note was typed into the computer on May 16th seven days after the first meeting with the family.
Austin Stack spoke of his commitment to restorative justice processes.
I told the Stack brothers that I could only help on the basis of confidentiality.
This was the same basis on which I had been able to assist other families.
Both Austin and Oliver agreed to respect the confidential nature of the process we were going to try to put in place.
Without that commitment I could never have pursued the meeting they were seeking which took place later that summer.
The brothers were given a statement by a former IRA leader.
The statement was made available publicly by the family.
The statement acknowledged that the IRA was responsible for their father’s death; that it regretted it took so long to clarify this for them; that the shooting of Brian Stack was not authorised by the IRA leadership; and that the person who gave the instruction was disciplined.
The statement expressed sorrow for the pain and hurt the Stack family suffered.
Following the meeting the family acknowledged that the process, and I quote, “has provided us with some answers that three separate Garda investigations failed to deliver. We would like to thank Deputy Adams for the role he has played in facilitating this outcome.”
Since then the position of Austin Stack has changed.
In 2013 Austin Stack gave me the names of four people whom he believed might have information on the case.
Austin Stack told me that he had been given these names by journalistic and Garda sources.
Austin Stack has denied giving me names.
Why on earth would I say that I received the names from him if I didn’t?
In February of this year Austin Stack also claimed that he gave names to the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
If Austin Stack was prepared to give names to Mr. Martin, why would he not have given them to me?
I was after all the person he was asking to arrange a meeting.
At Austin Stack’s request I contacted those I could from the names he gave me.
They denied having any information about the killing of Brian Stack.
I told Austin Stack this.
During the election campaign earlier this year the Fianna Fáil leader and others repeated a lot of what was said in 2013.
It was part of his election strategy against Sinn Féin.
However, in addition allegations were made that I was withholding information from the Garda.
It was in this context, and to remove any uncertainty or ambiguity I emailed the Garda Commissioner the names that Austin Stack had given me and which he said had come from Garda and journalistic sources.
I have never at any time described those named as suspects.
I made it clear to the Garda Commissioner that I have no information on the death of Brian Stack.
The email was only sent after I had spoken to three of the four.
There is a live Garda investigation.
I am prepared to cooperate with this.
The position of Micheál Martin, who was a Minister in successive Fianna Fáil government’s during the peace process, and of the Taoiseach on this issue is hypocritical, inconsistent and in fact disappointing.
I have never sought publicity on this issue.
Any public comments I have made have been in response to others.
Firstly, when Austin Stack publicly asked to meet me, and during the process we established in 2013.
Secondly when Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil sought to exploit this issue as part of their election campaign of 2016.
And today I make this statement in the Dáil following an email that I wrote to the Garda Commissioner being put inappropriately in my opinion into the public realm and then raised here in the Dáil twice by the Fianna Fáil leader.
I say inappropriately because there is a live investigation into the murder of Brian Stack and we in this chamber should be mindful not to say anything which might prejudice this or any future court proceedings.
The Fianna Fáil leader and the Taoiseach seem to be unconcerned about this.
For my part I will cooperate with An Garda Síochána.
Micheál Martin says, I named four people who I understand to be suspects in the murder of Mr Stack.
Teachta Martin has misled the Dáil.
I never made such a statement.
I have never described those named as suspects.
He says, that I said, I took a note of the meeting between Austin and Oliver Stack and a former IRA leader.
I never said this.
I took no note of that meeting.
He says I took Austin and Oliver Stack to that meeting in a blacked out van.
The Taoiseach even went so far on Tuesday to say I drove the van.
Not true. I travelled with the Stack brothers in my car to a prearranged place on the border and then we were all taken in a van to the meeting in the north.
The Fianna Fáil leader and the Taoiseach should correct the Dáil record on these.
Since Fr. Alex Reid and Fr. Des Wilson, myself and John Hume began our work to develop a peace process successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments, encouraged and facilitated meetings between myself and Martin McGuinness and the IRA leadership.
Is the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader demanding that we should have named those we met?
Do you think this would have helped the peace process?
I recall one specific occasion when a meeting in St. Luke’s with the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff Jonathon Powell was suspended to allow Martin McGuinness and I to meet the IRA.
On other occasions initiatives involving the Irish and British government, the IRA, the Ulster Unionist Party and Sinn Féin were constructed to advance the process.
Meetings were adjourned to facilitate this.
These conversations helped to secure historic cessations.
Should those involved be named.
None of these would have been possible without talking to the IRA.
Micheál Martin knows this.
Our efforts led in July 2005 to the IRA announcing an end to the armed campaign and to engaging with the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning to put its arms beyond use.
Progress that could only have been secured on the basis of direct contact and confidentially.
Is Micheál Martin demanding that Martin McGuinness and I should name those we were meeting in the IRA leadership and who decided to put their arms beyond use?
Is he demanding that the Decommissioning Body name those IRA members it met?
Are they demanding that Cyril Ramaphosa and Martii Ahtisaari name those in the IRA they engaged with to facilitate the arms beyond use process?
Should we now name all of those in the IRA who supported the peace process and took difficult but courageous decisions?
I and others also assisted the Smithwick Commission.
One of the most difficult legacy issues that we have had to deal with is that of the disappeared.
The governments established the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains at my request and with Fr. Reid’s support.
As a result of our efforts 12 of the 16 victims have been recovered and work continues on seeking information on the remain four.
I haven’t given up on this.
Martin McGuinness and I continue to meet regularly with the Commission.
The Commission also meets with former IRA people.
Should they be named.
Mícheál Martin knows all of this. He was a senior member of the government which established the commission.
Progress was only possible on the basis of confidentially and trust. That is why no IRA people where named during any of these initiatives and why they should not be named today.
It is an essential part of any conflict resolution process.
Sinn Féin has worked consistently to resolve the issues of the past.
As part of our commitment to this I have met many families, like that of Brian Stack, who have lost loved ones.
If the Taoiseach and Micheál Martin are interested in healing the legacy of the past for all families, including the Stacks, the Finucane’s, the families of the Dublin Monaghan bombs and hundreds more, then they could begin by putting in place an International based independent truth recovery process.
My generation of republican activists who lived through and survived the war have a responsibility to try and bring the families of victims of the war, irrespective of who was responsible, to a better place.
That is what I have tried to do with my engagement in 2013 with the Stack Family.
Sinn Féin MLA, Conor Murphy said today that the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was flawed from its inception and what happened in terms of the waste of public money was an unacceptable dereliction of responsibility.
Speaking today the chair of the Economy Committee Mr Murphy said:
“The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which will cost the public purse over £400m has been flawed from the outset.
“There are huge implications for the civil service and our block grant. Very senior officials had responsibility over the establishment, the monitoring and the implementation of RHI.
“It beggars belief internal reporting systems were so flawed that key issues were not identified and addressed within the department despite warnings having being raised about the scheme.
“There are also real concerns that there may well have been aggressive exploitation of this scheme for commercial profit and gain.
“The public, the Assembly and the Executive all need to know what happened here.
“A vast amount of taxpayers’ money will be lost, which should be available to the Executive for front line public services at a time of increasing British Tory cuts.
“Given my ministerial experience I do believe that Arlene Foster, who was the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister at the time, should come forward to provide a full account and set the public record straight on this issue.”
The Sinn Féin spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and TD for Limerick city Maurice Quinlivan has said he is alarmed that homeless people may be forced to move out of emergency accommodation over the Christmas period due to the seasonal closure of hotels. Speaking after raising the issue in the Dáil with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney, Deputy Quinlivan said:
“Agencies involved in the provision of emergency accommodation for homeless families and single people are extremely worried about the provision of services over the Christmas period in the city.
“Their sense of alarm stems from the fact that hotels in city are closing their doors for three to four days over Christmas which means that homeless families will have to move out at a time when there is already insufficient accommodation available.
“This is unprecedented and has never happened before.
“The scarcity of accommodation means that women, young children and vulnerable people will find themselves on the streets and the council will be powerless to assist them.
“Basically there is no room at the inn in the Centenary year of the 1916 Rising.
“Limerick Council confirmed that on the 25th of November, there were 197 individuals resident in emergency homeless accommodation - 57 of these are young children.
“I am calling on Minister Coveney who will be in Limerick on Friday to intervene immediately.
“My understanding is that there is no accommodation available over the holidays on Christmas Eve, Christmas day, St. Stephen’s Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
“This is like something out of a Dickens novel and it is not acceptable”.