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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan attended the Justice for Mary Boyle protest outside the GPO this afternoon.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Boylan said:

“I spoke in the European Parliament in April, saying that Mary Boyle has been failed by the Irish legal system. It is in the interest of the common good that anyone who was capable of such a crime is brought to justice. This is Ireland’s longest running missing child case and her family deserve answers.

“This rally today is proof that there are many people who share this view. Is it too much to ask for a child who has been missing for almost 40 years?” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture Martin Kenny TD has said that the decision of the High Court to award €124, 000, plus most of his legal costs to a Tipperary farmer after his inspection proved to be “flawed” is significant for many farmers who feel aggrieved by Department decisions and believe that their appeals were not properly handled.

The Sligo-Leitrim TD continued:

“The decision of the High Court to award €124, 000, plus most of his legal costs to a Tipperary farmer after his inspection proved to be flawed is significant for many farmers who feel aggrieved by Department decisions and believe that their appeals were not properly handled. 

“The case may yet be appealed by the Department, but it will be interesting to see what defence can be made for not providing a control report after the inspection when that is a stated regulation according to EU procedure. 

“It is significant that the court ordered payment to the farmer of his withheld SFP, while allowing that the commonage portion of the land was not, in fact, eligible, further emphasising the court's recognition of the importance of procedure and conduct of appeals. 

“The whole issue points to the need for an appeals board which would be independent of the Department and which could hold the Department to account. 

“I hope to introduce legislation to that effect in the new term.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA and National Chairperson Declan Kearney has said an inclusive national conversation is required to build new relationships and an agreed Ireland. 

Writing in his latest blog to mark the centenary of the execution of 1916 leader Roger Casement. Mr Kearney said; 

"The republican vision is of a society which is tolerant, pluralist, and multi-cultural, and celebrates the diversity of all our people regardless of religious persuasion, cultural identity, political affiliation, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

"The Brexit decision has swept away all of the old assumptions. The British state as we have all come to know it, is in constitutional, institutional and political crisis.

"All of this poses huge challenges for Irish national interests. And yet a real potential has opened up to begin a new political and civic conversation about Ireland’s future in a post-Brexit context.

"Political partners, social partners, civic stakeholders, and popular community opinion should work together in a new, positive, national conversation about how to reimagine and redesign constitutional, political and economic arrangements which better serve Ireland’s needs.

"A moment has arrived to begin a considered conversation about Ireland’s future; to begin talking to each other about new relationships, and the compromises and arrangements upon which such a new future should be based.

"That is the legacy of Roger Casement in 2016."

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Sinn Féin MLA Sean Lynch has said all public and government buildings should be open and welcoming to the LGBT+ community. 

Speaking in Stormont's Long Gallery at the launch of Sinn Féin's programme of events as part of the Belfast Pride Festival, the Sinn Féin equality spokesperson said; 

"I was proud to launch Sinn Féin's programme of events for the Belfast Pride Festival in the Long Gallery in Stormont today. 

"It was the first time the event was held in the Long Gallery and signals another step forward for the LGBT+ community. 

"Public buildings such as Stormont must be open and welcoming to all citizens, including the LGBT+ community. 

"I would encourage as many people as possible to attend the many excellent events during the Belfast Pride Festival. 

"Huge steps forward towards full equality have been made in recent years but there is still more to be done. 

"Sinn Féin remains committed to working for full equality, including marriage equality, for the LGBT+ community." 

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Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly has expressed concern at the rate of return of Housing needs assessment forms for Dublin City.

Speaking after the housing special policy meeting today, Cllr Reilly said:

“The deadline for the return of the Housing needs assessment form was 27th July.  Housing management told us today that only 10,000 of forms have been returned which represents less than 50% of those on the housing waiting list.

“I had a huge concern from the outset about this process as I have dealt with people in the past that have been removed from the housing list because they did not receive the form or the council did not get it back from the applicant.

“The Council are going to send out the form again to those who haven’t returned it so it is vitally important that all those on the housing waiting list who wish to remain on it return that form as soon as possible.

“I would have concerns for those families who have moved in the last five years and may not even be aware that this assessment is taking place.

“The council need to ensure no one is taken off the list that is in need of housing and all effort must be made to ensure the housing needs assessment is accurate.”

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Sinn Féin vice president and all Ireland spokesperson on Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Mary Lou McDonald TD has expressed her concern on the increase in recorded deaths by suicide in the North of Ireland.

“Last Monday I met with a number of groups and individuals in Belfast concerned with mental health and suicide prevention.  The shocking rise in recorded deaths by suicide outlined in figures released today underscores the concerns outlined to me by those who are working at the coalface on these issues. 

"Behind all these statistics are real people, and families who are still hurting and lives left shattered.  It is abundantly clear from talking with those community representatives that we face a crisis in death by suicide and self-harm in the north and this mirrors the situation right across Ireland.  Local people know what’s going on and we should listen to them.

"I will continue to engage with the Minister for Health, with mental health and suicide prevention groups and statutory stakeholders on these issues to develop a comprehensive and inclusive all-Ireland strategy on mental health and suicide prevention.”

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It was agreed at today’s special meeting of the Dublin City Council’s housing committee to establish a special unit in city council whose sole focus is to deliver plans to build homes in Dublin.

Speaking after the meeting, Sinn Féin Cllr. Daithí Doolan, chair of the Dublin City Council’s housing committee, said:

“Today’s meeting was both significant and productive. Dublin City Council aims to deliver more homes than is committed to in the Governments’ Housing Action Plan.  This is necessary to meet the needs of Dublin City where there are 28,000 applicants on the housing list.

“The government’s housing plan is welcome. It has potential, but its targets are too modest and it maintains an over-reliance on the private sector. We aim to change that in Dublin City. We aim to surpass the targets set in the plan.

“We have reached cross-party agreement on how we can squeeze every ounce of opportunity out of the government’s plan. We agreed to establish a special unit in the housing department whose sole focus is to develop plans to deliver housing on council sites.  We agreed, with management, that plans and updates on our home building programme will be presented to city council meetings every month. The initial 20 sites will be ready as soon as possible. If extra resources are needed, they will be made available.

“We want Dublin City Council to be the biggest housing developer in Dublin. To ensure this happens, we will actively seek finance independent of the department to build homes on council land. We want a plan that allows the city council to access funding from the Housing Finance Agency and other financial intuitions. A working model will allow city council to pay back any loan and interest. This allow us to build social and affordable homes and to break the reliance on the private sector.

“Sinn Féin will continue to work with other parties on Dublin City Council to prioritise delivering solutions to the current housing crisis. The current crisis demands solution focused, political leadership and that is what we intend to provide.”

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Sinn Féin and Dublin City Cllr Janice Boylan has tabled a motion before the council that would see the remaining tenants of O'Devaney Gardens housed in alternative accommodation more suited to their needs.

Cllr Boylan said:

“Today at the Housing SPC, I tabled a motion calling on city management to deviate in a reasonable way from the strict scheme of lettings to accommodate the ten remaining tenants of O'Devaney Gardens in alternative accommodation and to also make sure they received a letter of comfort from the Manager saying they would not be legally forced to move.

“The ten remaining tenants have a right to want to remain in the area and community that they grew up in and reared families. Most of them don't even want to move but obviously they have to so we can start building on the land.

“With this in mind, I requested on numerous occasions that the housing management team meet with them and I received that commitment today.

“This meeting will take place during August and the report will be brought to the Dublin central area committee in September for us all to approve.

“I look forward to making sure this is passed and that like other detenanting programmes across the city these families be looked at in the capacity that it is. We can't lose sight of the fact that it is a detenanting programme and some of them don't or didn't ever want to move out of the area.

“By passing this motion today, we proved to the tenants that we are serious about listening to their needs and can start offering them real alternative accommodation. Whether that means including their needs in the plan for 30 units on Infirmary Road which I requested or by purchasing homes in the area they want. Either way, it will be a win-win for the ten remaining.” 

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Speaking today on this week’s interim report from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire outlined his concerns and called on Minister Katherine Zappone to issue an apology on behalf of the state. 

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“I once again raise the need for the commission to extend its investigations into all Mother and Baby Homes in question. Furthermore, the commission should ensure that the Confidential Committee, in seeking truth, interview those who were involved in the running of these institutions, or if there are individuals that were named by survivors in their testimonies.

“In the interest of transparency, these survivors should be afforded the opportunity to have public hearings. The commission has the authority to do so, and this has been the practice in previous inquiries and investigations into institutional abuse. It is also imperative that all matters regarding the illegal adoption and trafficking of babies must be included in their investigation into the Mother and Baby homes, and all institutions where situations like these were occurring. People deserve the truth.

“The commission should be in a position to make judgement, on a case by case basis, through submissions already received, and recommend to the Minister that age needs to be taken into account. Many of the survivors who are now elderly need redress before time runs out for them.

“This is all in the interest of justice for these victims being realised. I’m sure there are many victims in the US and Britain that are still unaware of the work of the commission. I would suggest that an advertising campaign be run once again to ensure all are aware.

“It is only right that the inhumane treatment and suffering of Irish women and their children must be acknowledged by the Irish government. The Minister should issue an immediate apology on behalf of the state.” 

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Lynn Boylan MEP has commented on the sentencing of the three ex-bankers for conspiracy to defraud in the €7.2 billion Anglo Irish Bank case.

Speaking today, Ms Boylan said:

“We welcome the conviction and sentencing of the three individuals in the €7.2 billion Anglo fraud conspiracy case, which is most high profile case arising from the events that led to the bailout.  

“Unfortunately it is all too rare that those who commit white-collar crime are brought to account. White collar crime is not victimless. Ask any of the families who have lost their homes due to the crash.

“The crimes of these men and others walking free led directly to cuts of our hospitals, schools and the forced emigration of hundreds of thousands.

“Fine Gael refuse to take white collar crime seriously. A perfect example of this is their refusal to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the sale of NAMA portfolio Project Eagle.

“We have the laws. What we need is for the government to adequately resource those who enforce these laws so that we can bring more individuals like this to justice.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has condemned those responsible for a security alert in the centre of Ballycastle. 

The North Antrim MLA said; 

"This alert in Quay Street in Ballycastle has brought nothing but disruption to the town. 

"Ballycastle is very popular with tourists, particularly during the summer months and incidents like this don't help efforts to attract more visitors. 

"There is no place in our society for incidents like this which serve only to bring inconvenience to Ballycastle and that is something no one wants."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said there is widespread concern among small business owners in border areas about the prospect of being dragged out of the EU. 

Speaking after meeting small business owners from West Tyrone and Donegal in Strabane today, Ms Anderson said; 

"Small businesses in the North trade extensively with their counterparts across the rest of the island.

"Many are now seriously concerned about the potential impact of the EU referendum. 

"I met with SME owners in Strabane today to discuss their concerns. 

"It is clear they are very worried about the possible imposition of trade barriers across the island of Ireland. 

"The majority of people in the North voted to reject an EU border in Ireland and made it clear they want to remain in the EU. That must be respected. 

"We don't want any borders on the island of Ireland, whether physical or trade barriers. 

"We need to be developing the all-Ireland economy to counter the disastrous impact of partition, not install additional obstacles."

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has encouraged men over 50 to make sure they get checked for prostate cancer. 

The East Antrim MLA said; 

"Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men but still some men are reluctant to seek treatment if they are concerned. 

"Men over 50 years old are most at risk from prostate cancer and it is this group who should make sure they speak to their doctor and get checked. 

"In the North more than one thousand men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. 

"Sadly more than 250 men a year die in the north each year from prostate cancer. However it can be treated successfully if diagnosed early so it is vitally important to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. 

"I know from personal experience that the treatment does work and I would encourage men to talk about prostate cancer and raise awareness of it."

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Sinn Féin Junior Spokesperson on Housing, Planning & Local Government Dessie Ellis has highlighted unfair guidelines regarding the Local Property Tax (LPT) which means that some homeowners affected by pyrite are not exempt from the charge.

Revenue is now reviewing claims for pyrite, meaning many homeowners who thought they would be exempt from the charge, may have to pay back LPT of four years, at a cost of up to 1200.

This is as a result of an amendment to the LPT Act in 2015, which means the qualifying criteria for an exemption, on foot of significant pyritic damage, has been changed.

Deputy Ellis said:

“One of my constituents had a certificate to say he was exempt from paying the local property tax because of significant damage to his apartment building in 2013. This month revenue have contacted him and said that due to the change in criteria, his apartment is not exempt from LPT and he needs to back pay it to 2013.

“The reason he was removed from the scheme was his apartment was not on the ground floor.  And in the Revenue’s words:

The Department of the environment, community and local government has determined the level of damage that constitutes “significant pyritic damage” and has published the qualifying criteria. Revenue has been advised that such damage generally occurs at ground floor level and that apartments on higher floors are unlikely to meet the criteria.

“My constituent did not have a site visit, so the damage done could not be assessed. The whole nature of pyrite damage is the presence of the mineral in the foundations of a building and it expands to the floors, walls and structures of the whole building.  

“It does not stop at the ground floor, even in apartment blocks. The Minister needs now to step in and remove this ludicrous guideline.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Bay North Denise Mitchell has welcomed a new micro-credit initiative the Irish League of Credit Unions which has gone nationwide this week. It will provide for smaller loans with an average payment of €500 and with reasonable and affordable interest rates. However the new loan scheme highlights the crippling interest rates of money lender that are active in the market.

Deputy Mitchell said:

“This a very welcome initiative from the Irish League of Credit Unions but it has highlighted that people have had to resort to interest rates of up to nearly 200% from money lenders.

“According to the Irish League of Credit Unions, the initial roll out of the project had shown great success, delivering a realistic alternative for people and membership of a Credit Union is not required to seek a loan. It will ultimately be up to each credit union individually to join the programme.

“However, this does not eliminate the current money lenders. People may still have difficulty for a variety of reasons approaching any institutional body and feel more comfortable with the money lender at the door. This will however mean facing crippling interest payments for the convenience.

“Other countries across the European Union place a cap on interest rates and many are at substantially lower levels than in Ireland.  

“With the extra payments, through the high interest rates, it is estimated that €93m is being taken from often vulnerable people who cannot afford it. The Irish League of Credit Unions judge this figure against loans of 2 x €500 in a year.  

 “Thankfully people now have an affordable avenue created by the Credit Unions. But the high interest rates of other groups will remain. These high interest rates can be addressed by the Government and through Central Bank regulations. It is better that money is kept in the pockets of often the most vulnerable than being drained away in crippling interest.” 

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Figures release by the Department of Social Protection through a question by Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Bay North, Denise Mitchell to the Minister demonstrates a dramatic drop in funding from the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme (formerly the Community Welfare Officer).

Teachta Denise Mitchell said that:

“There was €82 million provided to recipients in 2008 under the scheme, down to €30 million in 2014. Further the Government will be spending €30.3million for 2016. Taking into account the so called economic recovery, and the drop in live register figures, it still seems on the face of it a substantial drop.

“We must remember the purpose of these payments is for once-off and unforeseen expenditure and people will seek this service often in very difficult circumstances and under personal pressures. It is a scheme considered by the Department as a ‘safety net’ within the social welfare system and for those seeking immediate assistance. These payments can be for a multitude of reasons such as broken household appliances.  

“The Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme is seen as being demand led, but the Government must as a priority ensure that those facing genuine, difficult circumstances, and requiring an urgent payment, are not denied.

 “Revised guidelines were issued to staff in 2012 and 2013. We must ensure there have been no overarching policy changes by the Department in relation to the restriction of these ‘safety net’ payments.”

 

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his “deep disappointment at the failure of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to respect and uphold the vote of the people of the North to remain within the EU”.

The Louth TD said:

“I agree with the Taoiseach’s objective of minimising the likely damage arising from the Brexit vote and of co-ordinating our response to it. However, there is no point in having that objective if, at his first meeting with the British Prime Minister, the Taoiseach fails to defend the rights of citizens in the North to remain within the EU.

“There is also no point in the government spinning the line that there will be a ‘soft landing’ when the reality is that any restrictions on the border will have serious economic consequences.

“The implementation of Brexit means that the border, which has become almost invisible since the Good Friday Agreement, will be the only land frontier between Britain and the EU. It will become an economic barrier to trade and the movement of goods and services and jobs. The reality is that there are border controls between EU member states and non-member states. Moreover, as the Brexit negotiation will be between the EU and the British government, any arrangements reached do not need to have the agreement of either the Dáil or the Executive. London and Brussels can impose them.

“The Brexit vote to leave in England and Wales was hugely influenced by a strong anti-immigration campaign. It is difficult to envisage a scenario in which customs and immigration checks will not be introduced.

“What is also likely is that checks, including static and mobile checkpoints will be introduced to control cross border trade. Inevitably, this will impact on ferry traffic to Scotland and England.

“All of these measures will cost a substantial amount of money to resource and will reduce what, under the Good Friday Agreement institutions, was a growing trading connection. Britain’s Ambassador to Dublin told a conference in Dublin that while efforts would be made to avoid restrictions on the movement of people avoiding controls on the trade of goods would be ‘more difficult’.

“The knock-on effect on jobs North and South will be considerable. The Irish government has already estimated that 200,000 jobs are linked to trade with Britain which currently stands at €1.2 billion a week. 

“The border counties will be most affected, especially by the disruption to Interreg and Peace funding.

“On Wednesday, the Irish Central Bank reduced its forecasts for economic growth in the aftermath of Britain’s Brexit vote. It predicted a ‘negative and material’ impact ‘both in the short-run and the longer-term’. It warned that Ireland and Britain could face increased tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

“This is of huge concern given that Britain is still the largest trade partner of the Irish state. Agri-food and tourism are key sectors likely to be affected.

“In summary, Brexit presents a significant threat to the two economies on this island. The Irish government has a responsibility to defend the vote of citizens in the North to remain within the EU and to protect the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.” 

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Today Cllr. Tom Healy called for the creation of a cross community action group to apply pressure to resolve the issues denying the development of the N59.

Cllr. Healy said:

“If there is one issue on which everyone in Connemara is agreed, it is that the N59 is not fit to serve the people of Connemara who rely upon it for a living. The N59 is the main route for much of Connemara with Communities both North and South of the road itself in desperate need of a safe road that will allow them to connect to the rest of the country in good time. This is an issue for everyone in the community, the road brings in our main business in tourism, and carries our sick to Galway.

“We rely on this road to conduct our business in Galway and further afield, as well as the fact that at the very least we should be able to offer young people the chance to live in their own community while having the option to commute to the cities for work. The recent setbacks are unacceptable to all, and there is a political consensus that this is unacceptable. The lack of progress between the various Government departments now requires direct pressure from the people of Connemara themselves.”

“As such I am organising a public meeting in Maam Cross at 8pm on Thursday 11th August to update people on the issues to date, and what must be done to progress the works. All political representatives will be invited, as will representatives from Galway County Council, National Parks and Wildlife, and Community leaders from across Connemara. At the meeting I will invite members of the public to form an action group to take the initiative in letting their voice be heard.

“If we are to secure the future of Connemara for generations to come, then we must stake an equal claim to the right of developing our infrastructure the same as any other community in the country. As it stands, people from Connemara are paying for the poor state of the N59, they are paying for it in higher repair bills for their cars, they are paying for it in terms of delayed journeys to and from work, they are paying for it in painful journeys to get treatment for illness, and they are ultimately paying for it in terms of lost opportunity and the chance to keep our unique community and culture alive.”

 Sinn Féin ag moladh grúpa feachtasaíochta tras-phobal a bhunú ar son forbairt an bhóthair n59 a chinntiú

Tá sé ráite ag an gCmhlr. Tom Healy inniu gur cheart Grúpa Feachtasaíochta Tras-Phobal a bhunú le go sárófar na constaicí atá roimh fhorbairt an bhóthair N59 ó Uachtar Ard go dtí an Clochán.

Ag labhairt dó inniu dúirt an Cmhlr. Healy:

“Má tá ceist ar bith go bhfuil muintir Chonamara uilligh ar aon fhocal faoi, is é nach bhfuil an N59 in ann freastal ar riachtanais an phobail áitiúil, pobal ina bhfuil slí bheatha na ndaoine ag brath go trom ar an mbóthar céanna. Is é an N59 an príomh-bhóthar le haghaidh go leor de mhuintir Chonamara, thuaidh agus theas, atá ag iarraidh bealach slán sábháilte le taisteal go háiteacha eile sa tír. Seo é an bóthar a chothaíonn cúrsaí turasóireachta i gConamara agus a thugann othair go dtí an t-ospidéal i nGaillimh.

“Táimíd ag brath ar an mbóthar seo go huile is go hiomlán le gnó a dhéanamh i nGaillimh agus níos faide ó bhaile, gan caint ar an rogha ba cheart a bheadh ag daoine óga fostaíocht a fháil i nGaillimh agus fanacht ina bpobal féin. Ní féidir glacadh leis na céimeanna siar atá tarlaithe le gairid, agus tá formhór mór na bpolaiteoirí den bharúil chéanna sin. Teastaíonn brú ón bpobal anois i gcomhthéacs an easpa dul chun cinn atá déanta idir na ranna Rialtais éagsúla.

“Tá cruinniú poiblí á reáchtáil agam Déardaoin 11 Lúnasa @ 8.00in, tigh Pheacock ar an Teach Dóite leis an bpobal a chur ar an eolas faoin scéala is deireanaí maidir leis an 59 agus céard is gá a dhéanamh amach anseo leis na hoibreacha a thabhairt chun cinn. Beidh cuireadh ag dul chuig gach polaiteoir, ionadaithe ó Chomhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe, Seirbhís na bpáirceanna Náisiúnta agus Fiadhúlra agus ceannairí pobail ó cheann ceann Chonamara. Beidh mé ag moladh dóibh siúd a bhéas ag an gcruinniú Grúpa Feachtasaíochta a bhunú le go mbeidh ról láidir acu sa troid seo.

“Má tá muid ag iarraidh todhchaí Chonamara mar phobal a chinntiú, níor mhór dúinn éileamh go mbíonn sé de cheart againn bonneagar cuí a thógáil ach an oiread le pobal ar bith eile sa tír. Faoi mar atá, táthar ag íoc as an droch-chaoi atá ar bhóthar an N59 ar aon chuma ag íoc as billí níos airde le caoi a chur ar an gcarr, moill ag teacht agus ag imeacht go dtí an láthair oibre, turais phianmhara le teacht ar chóireáil dochtúra agus, sa deireadh thiar thall, tá muid ag íoc as trí na deiseanna atá á cheilt orainn - an pobal mór thart orainn a fhorbairt agus an cultúr saibhir atá le fáil go smior ann a choinneáil beo."

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has condemned deliberate damage to Irish language road signs around Park village in Co Derry.

The East Derry MLA said:

"Local people campaigned hard to get these signs and have expressed their understandable annoyance at this wanton destruction: the plastic part of the signs with the road name have been deliberately removed with the Irish language signs being specifically targeted.

"Prior to the original erection of these signs, consultations took place with residents on all the roads and received widespread support.

"There is no excuse for this type of vandalism and it will not be tolerated.

"We would urge anyone with information about the sign removal to bring it to the attention of the PSNI.

"Occurrences like this bring into focus the need for protection of Irish Language rights through Acht na Gaeilge."

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane has expressed concern that Hinkley Point, Somerset nuclear plant is set for final approval.

The South Down MLA said:

"Nuclear energy, has been a controversial source of energy production throughout the world.

“Nuclear plants should not be developed in Ireland or where they can have an impact on our health or environment.

"We have already heard of the threat that Sellafield poses to the people of Ireland and indeed South Down.

“The Irish Government need to convey that message that nuclear plants should not be developed near the coastline of the Irish Sea as they pose a serious rick to the people of Ireland.

"Methods of producing energy that can cause serious risk to the health and environment of Irish citizens, including nuclear generation and fracking, should not be supported.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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