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Political process in trouble - Gerry Adams TD

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

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



Latest Statements

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Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin called tonight on the loyal orders to enter into dialogue with residents in Carrickhill to get a solution to contentious parades passing St Patrick's Church.

"We have had further breaches today of Parades Commission rulings on marches going past St Patrick's.

"In particular the decision by a band to play the Famine Song near the chapel was a real provocation.

"Despite this it remains my opinion  that a resolution can be found in talks between the loyal orders and local people on the problems associated with this part of the route.

"I don't think its unreasonable for the loyal orders to accept that supporters should not accompany the march between Stanhope Sreet and Union Street or play music on this small section of the route. 

"Such a move would in my opinion go a long way to deal with residents' concerns about this part of the route which includes St Patrick's Church.

"I am calling on the loyal orders to show some leadership and demonstrate that they want to resolve this issue.

"Dialogue threatens no one and I'm calling on people in the loyal orders to grasp the nettle and work towards a solution on parades on this area."

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Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has praised the attendance at Newry Pride parade pupils of St Paul's High School, Bessbrook. 

Speaking after Year 13 and 14 pupils attended the Newry Pride parade today, the Newry and Armagh MLA said; 

"This is a marvellous piece of progressive thinking and a fine example of embracing diversity and promoting inclusivity by St Paul's.

"It is a fine example of how we can build schools that are welcoming for all, where students can achieve their full academic potential, regardless of their sexual orientation."

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Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said this morning's Black Perceptory march in Belfast city centre breached Parades Commission determinations.

Speaking after a feeder parade on Donegal Street, the North Belfast MLA said; 

"This Black Perceptory feeder parade breached a number of Parades Commission determinations.

"Bands once again played the sectarian 'Famine Song' while approaching St Patrick's Church. This type of behaviour is not helpful and must be condemned.  

"Marchers and bands need to show respect while passing all places of worship. 

"The PSNI and Parades Commission are aware of these breaches and I would call on them to take action to ensure there is no repeat of this morning's scenes when the parade makes its return journey this evening. 

"No music should be played on the return parade and there should only be a single drumbeat.

"Tolerance and respect is the way forward in dealing with this and all parades and the organisers need to demonstrate this and engage with local resident to ensure a resolution to this issue.

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Sinn Fein councillor Gareth Keating has condemned a suspected arson attack on a house in the Mullacreevie Park area of Armagh. 

Councillor Keating said; 

"This attack on a house in Mullacreevie Park must be condemned. 

"It appears that whoever was responsible got the wrong house but regardless of that there can be no justification for this type of incident. 

"The people of the area do not want this type of criminality. 

"I would like to praise the emergency services for their quick response in dealing with this attack. 

"Anyone with information on this incident should bring it to the PSNI."

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Sinn Fein MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer Mc Cann called for tolerance and mutual respect for all when she addressed the Pride in Newry Festival Parade today.

She said,

"All of us have a role in building a society that allows us to embrace our differences, and celebrate diversity.

"Tolerance and mutual respect are key if we are want ensure that everyone feels a sense of belonging and being part of a proud community.

"Many people from still face discrimination and victimisation because of their sexual orientation.

"It is essential that those prejudices are challenged and that there are clear and robust strategies in place to deliver equality for all our people."

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said that local councils must adopt a flexible and reasonable attitude to the imposition of interest on Non Principal Private Residence charges and Minister Kelly should review the written guidance to councils on the collection of the charge.

Speaking today Deputy Doherty said:

“Many people who now face a total bill of well over €7,000 from the 1st September were not even aware that they are liable for the NPPR. I am aware of cases being taken with the Ombudsman by citizens who feel they have been ambushed by this charge.

“Guidance issued by the Department allows for local to provide flexibility in cases of genuine hardship. This includes writing down or waving of fees.

“Councils must make full use of this flexibility to make sure fairness prevails. Minister Kelly should review this guidance and to ensure that those who were genuinely not aware of the charge to be free from massive late payment fees.

“When the Fianna Fail/Green government introduced this charge it was labelled a ‘Second Home Tax’. However, despite Sinn Féin’s objection at the time they included not only those with second homes but people who had only one house but as a result of circumstances were not living permanently in those homes.

“These include emigrants who have been forced to leave the country as a result of economic hardship and many in rural communities who have been forced to leave their homes, moving to larger cities and renting home in search of work.

“These people have been forced from their homes as a result of government policy yet they are now not only being punished with the NPPR but are being hit with a massive late payment bill as well.

“Sinn Fein’s Councillors across this State will use their influence to ensure a reasonable and flexible approach is taken by local councils where an application for flexibility because of hardship is submitted.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has written to the Agriculture Minister calling on him to withdraw the proposed 50% Collective Agreement from the Fast track entry criteria to the GLAS scheme set out in the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

In his letter Mr Carthy has reiterated concerns from hill farmers across Ireland and has urged Minister Coveney to use the time before the RDP is implemented to remove the Collective Agreement requirement and allow active hill farmers to access GLAS in their own right.

Carthy, who addressed a meeting in Westport last week attended by over 1,700 Hill farmers said;

“Hill Farmers have correctly stated that the collective agreement proposals within the GLAS criteria are unworkable, unfair and discriminatory. I intend to support them in every way possible in their battle against this provision”.

Following discussions with Hill farmers from across the region MEP Carthy has also called for an increase to Natura Land payments to €150 per hectare from the proposed €79 per hectare for both privately owned and commonage Natura.

Last Wednesday’s Westport meeting was attended by 1,700 incensed Hill farmers from across the West as well as farmers from Tipperary and Cork, confirming that this is a widespread national issue.

As a follow on from the Westport meeting Donegal Hill farmers will be meeting on Friday 5th September in the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny at 8pm to once again express their concern and call on the Minister to address their apprehension.

MEP Carthy stated;

“This proposal is another attack on rural Ireland by discriminatory government policies. These conditions are out of touch with the needs of Hill farmers. Sinn Féin stands with Irish Hill farmers on these issues and look forward to seeing progress made on them from the Department. I am calling on Minister Simon Coveney to respond positively to my representations”.

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Rosie McCorley has welcomed a series of free intensive Irish language classes offered by DCAL as part of the Líofa initiative. 

The West Belfast MLA said: 

"Culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín's announcement of intensive Irish language courses to be held across the North is great news. 

"These dianchúrsaí will cater for all levels of learners, from complete beginners to more advanced speakers. 

"Clases will be held on Saturday, September 13 from 10am to 4pm. 

"The intensive courses are a great opportunity to start learning Irish or to brush up on whatever Irish you may already have. 

"They also provide advice on follow-up classes in your local area. 

"These free classes are being offered at a range of locations in each of the Six Counties as part of the hugely successful Líofa initiative pioneered by Carál Ní Chuilín, which is promoting fluency in Irish. 

"This further highlights Sinn Féin's commitment to the promotion and development of the Irish language." 

Classes will be held at the following locations; 

Down - Gaeláras Mhic Ardghaill, Newry

           - Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle

Fermanagh - County Council offices, Enniskillen

Tyrone - Cookstown Library

             - Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

Anrtim - An Droichead, south east Belfast

             - Croí Éanna GAA grounds, Glengormley

             - Coláiste Feirste, west Belfast

Armagh - Athletic grounds, Armagh

Derry - Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry

           - An Carn, Maghera

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Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said emigration is having a devastating impact on rural communities across the North.

 The Deputy Chair of the Assembly's Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee was speaking after it was revealed that 25,438 people left the North from mid-2012 to mid-2013.

 Mr Flanagan said:

 "These statistics paint a very bleak picture and highlight the very real demographic challenges facing many areas. On average, 489 people left the north every week during this period.

 "Rural areas in particular have been very badly hit, not only by emigration, but also by young people moving to more urban areas for university and for work, the majority of which will never return.

 "This then present serious social challenges for local communities in terms of sustaining rural schools and fielding football teams.

 "Despite all the recent fanfare around job announcements, there is still a huge lack of job opportunities in rural areas. Much more needs to be done to create jobs to enable people to continue living at home in their own communities instead of being forced abroad in search of employment."

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Gerry Adams at Hungerstrike rally in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh