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Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly has welcomed the Housing Action plan for Dublin and in particular the 150 affordable units for Ballymun but she has criticised the decision not to allocate any social housing within the area.

Speaking at the Dublin City Council meeting tonight where the plan was unveiled, Cllr Reilly said:

“I welcome the news that Ballymun is included in the new Dublin City Housing action plan land initiative.

“150 affordable units are very much needed in the area but there is the opportunity to build much more.

“Ballymun has enough vacant land to build 2,000 units, so 150 is a drop in the ocean.

“I am disappointed still to see that Ballymun is excluded from having to allocate 30% of the development to social housing.

“I have asked the manager to revisit this decision as we have over 1,000 families on the social housing waiting list in need of homes and we cannot ignore that.

“I look forward to thrashing out this development in the coming weeks in consultation with residents to provide many news homes in the area.” 

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Responding to the publication of a Red C survey on EU Trade deals that indicates that 69% of respondents are concerned about the impact of EU trade deals while 74% believe there should be a referendum on such deals, Matt Carthy MEP said the findings “confirmed what we have always said; the more people that become informed about the potential impact of trade deals such as TTIP and CETA the greater the opposition to them becomes.”

Carthy, who represents the Midlands North West constituency, said that it was the fear of citizens becoming informed that led to a European Commission strategy aimed at keeping as many pertinent details from the public as possible.  However, several leaks and the ongoing campaign work of organisations across Europe have left that strategy in shreds.   

He said:

“Citizens across the EU are demanding that they have a say on what many consider to be a dangerous agenda at the heart of trade negotiations such as the TTIP deal with the USA and CETA with Canada.

“A previous poll published last year which indicated high levels of support in Ireland for an EU-US trade deal has been widely cited by Fine Gael representatives.  But since then many Irish people have realised that TTIP is not a trade deal in any traditional sense.  Rather than being primarily concerned with tariffs these trade deals are largely about eliminating ‘non-tariff barriers’ or in other words, the standards that are aimed at protecting consumers, farmers, workers, small businesses and the environment.

“These poll findings highlight unwillingness among the Irish public to accept a trade deal at any cost.  The government must now move to similar ground.  Up until this point the Fine Gael government has saw its role as being the PR agents for the European Commission rather than defenders of Irish interests on deals such as TTIP.  This needs to change.

“I have commissioned legal opinion which confirms that the investment dispute mechanism within TTIP and CETA is incompatible with the Irish constitution and would require a referendum. Instead of waiting for an inevitable legal challenge, the government should commit to holding such a plebiscite.

“Above all, the Red C poll, commissioned by the campaign group ‘Uplift’ clearly shows that the government needs to change tact with required dangerous EU trade deals.  The best opportunity for the government to show it is listening will come when the commission proposal to ‘provisionally ratify’ the CETA trade deal comes before council shortly.  Our government must veto any such proposal to ratify this deal until the Dáil has had an opportunity to vote on and discuss all options, including the option of putting the proposal to referendum.  Anything less will be a signal that it intends to ignore the clear message that this poll has sent.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has questioned why, despite the Department of Finance being aware of issues for some time, that the Tax Strategy Papers contain no recommendation or analysis of the use of tax avoidance schemes as highlighted by him and others for months.

The Donegal TD called for the government to get real on the issue and to commit to a comprehensive plan to tackle not only the Section 110 issue but also the abuse of ICAVs (Collective Asset-management Vehicles) and Qualifying Investment Funds too. The Minister for Finance had committed to such action in April in a parliamentary reply to Deputy Doherty.

Deputy Doherty said:

“It is time for a clear commitment from government that they intend to tackle tax avoidance schemes in Budget 2017. This issue goes far beyond the well-known Section 110 loopholes but must also look at the wider picture including the use of ICAVs and Qualifying Investment Funds to avoid tax, including on property transactions. Over three months ago in April, the Minister confirmed to me that he was looking at these issues and that if a problem was identified ‘appropriate action will be taken and any necessary legislative changes that may be required will be put forward for my consideration’.

“The fact that there is not even a passing reference in the Tax Strategy Papers means there is no government priority attached to these schemes. That must change with a commitment from Minister Noonan that Budget 2017 will include a comprehensive plan to end these schemes.

“I welcome the recent media attention on one issue- the Section 110 status, but as far back as April, I was seeking a review with a focus on vulture funds’ arrangements. Following a Freedom of Information paper, I called upon the Charities Regulator to investigate the role of companies designated as charities within this infrastructure.  He confirmed to me that he would work with Revenue to look into the issue of abuse of charity status by some schemes. A wider exercise looking at the whole avoidance infrastructure is now needed.

“It comes as no shock to me that Revenue and the Department of Finance are fire-fighting on this issue. It is clear they have been aware of major tax avoidance schemes since at least March of this year. There can be no surprise from government about this issue either; they, and Fianna Fail before them, have created a culture and laws which not only facilitate but encourage the avoidance of tax by those with the ability to access the legal expertise to do so.

“Even now, despite the current focus, Irish companies are openly offering their services to companies that want to avail of these schemes. The tax avoidance industry carries on and has no fear of this government stopping it in its tracks.  A cursory look at the website of Davy’s stockbrokers brings you to a scheme to use Qualifying Investment Funds to buy Irish Real Estate to ‘mitigate tax liabilities’ to this State.

“Budget 2017 must be the one where we finally get to grips with this issue. No amount of spin or lobbying should allow us to minimise the damage this industry is causing. It’s an industry that does not fear a Fine Gael or Fianna Fail government because these parties set up and still support these schemes.” 


Note: The PQs in question can be seen below.

QUESTION NOS:  85,86,87,88

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Pearse Doherty
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 14/04/2016  

* To ask the Minister for Finance the income, gains and associated taxes paid in relation to qualifying investor funds investing in real estate since their introduction; the tax paid by their associated shareholders, by year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pearse Doherty T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 14 April, 2016.

* To ask the Minister for Finance thel income, gains and associated taxes paid in relation to Irish collective asset management vehicles investing in real estate since their introduction; the tax paid by their associated shareholders, by year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pearse Doherty T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 14 April, 2016.

* To ask the Minister for Finance if he has considered anti-avoidance measures in relation to Irish collective asset management vehicles investing in real estate, given the recent revelations concerning massive profits being made in property located here and funnelled through these vehicles, resulting in the Exchequer being deprived of Corporation Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax earned on profits from source assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pearse Doherty T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 14 April, 2016.

* To ask the Minister for Finance if he has considered anti-avoidance measures in relation to qualifying investor funds investing in real estate, given the recent revelations concerning massive profits being made in property located here and funnelled through these vehicles, resulting in the Exchequer being deprived of Corporation Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax earned on profits from source assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pearse Doherty T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 14 April, 2016.

REPLY.

Irish collective asset management vehicles (ICAVs) were introduced in 2015 as a measure to develop and enhance Irish competiveness in the funds industry in Ireland and to promote employment in the State.   

Qualifying Investor Funds, once authorised by the Central Bank, fall under the definition of an "investment undertaking", in Chapter 1A, Part 27 of the Taxes Consolidation Act and so are subject to the provisions of that chapter.  The legislation provides a tax exemption to the undertaking itself and to certain investors for example investors not resident in the State.

The Revenue Commissioners have informed me that as such funds are not chargeable to tax in respect of relevant profits they would not have the information sought.  Exit tax is imposed on Irish resident unit holders but a breakdown of this specific taxhead for a qualifying investor fund is not available.  

I am further advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are currently examining recent media coverage concerning the use of investment funds for property investments.  Should these investigations uncover tax avoidance schemes or abuse, which erodes the tax base and causes reputational issues for the State, then appropriate action will be taken and any necessary legislative changes that may be required will be put forward for my consideration.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI Rights Senator Fintan Warfield has expressed his regret after a warning notice, issued by the Planning Department in Dublin City Council, ensured the removal of the ‘Repeal the 8th’ mural at Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar.

Senator Warfield said;

“The ‘Repeal the 8th’ mural, its popularity and support, were manifestations of a societal consensus for a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment.

“It is clear that the mural received an overwhelming level of support from the public. We have seen during the referendum for civil marriage equality that public art has the potential to empower citizens, to shape a narrative, and impact on the making of progressive, societal change.

“I commend Project Arts Centre for showing leadership and providing the public space for citizens to engage this issue and I regret that Dublin City Council have forced the removal of the ‘Repeal the 8th' mural.” 

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Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Sinn Féin Party Leader and all-Ireland Spokesperson on Mental Health & Suicide Prevention met with community groups today at the offices of Bridge of Hope, a department of Ashton Community Trust.

Monday’s meeting in North Belfast involved TD Mary Lou McDonald and Cork TD Pat Buckley hearing views from community sector representatives working on suicide prevention across the city.

Speaking after the meeting, Irene Sherry and Stephen Barr from the Belfast Forum for Suicide Prevention said they were delighted to meet with the Sinn Féin TDs and highlight recent community efforts to reenergize hearts and minds around suicide prevention.

“Suicide claimed the lives of 55 people in Belfast last year and so far this year we know even more families have lost loved ones. Our efforts to establish a cross departmental community focused task force have been building in recent months and we are very keen to see this move forward. It was extremely worthwhile to hear from Mary Lou and Pat around efforts across the island of Ireland nationally and share our experiences locally.”

Mary Lou McDonald TD added: “It was a very useful and informative meeting. Mental health and suicide know no boundaries of class or political allegiance. As a community, we need to work together and learn from each other and support each other in the work that lies ahead. The challenges are considerable but we have the talent and energy in the community to make a huge difference.

“We need a joined up mental health strategy and we need proper resourcing, fresh thinking and political will to make the change. These changes affect every community in every town, in every village and every city right across Ireland, so individuals and families who have struggled with mental health or loss by suicide must remember they are not on their own.”

Pat Buckley TD added: “It was a frank, open and honest meeting. It was certainly educational and of benefit to both sides. It does instil a sense of determination to drive positive mental health, raise awareness and bring communities together.  Remember, there is no colour, class, creed religion or politics when it comes to suicide. It affects us all.”

Caption: Martina McIlkenny PIPS Charity, Jo Murphy Lighthouse Ireland, Stephen Barr Start 360, Claire Flynn East Belfast Community Development Association, Mary Lou McDonald, Pat Buckley, Irene Sherry Ashton Community Trust, Phil McTaggart Mindskills, Jean Fox Bridge of Hope. Back Row: Ronan McGinley Start 360, Gerard Rice LORAG, Áine Magee Bridge of Hope, Peter McBride NIAMH.

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Speaking following the comments and visit by the British Prime Minister to Belfast Sinn Féin President Gerrt Adams said;

“I welcome this morning’s meeting between the British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Deputy First and Deputy First Ministers.

“The British Prime Minister cannot with any credibility claim to speak on behalf of the people of the north.

“In the last election the Tory Party was rejected and in the recent referendum on EU membership the people of the north voted to remain.

“In her public remarks Theresa May spoke of working on practical solutions. The only solution is for her to respect the democratic wishes of the people of the North to remain.

“Brexit has the potential to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, undermine the all-Ireland economy and undermine progress.

“The imposition of Brexit on Ireland again underlines the failure of partition. The option of Irish Unity is and must be on the agenda.

“There is need for all of those across Ireland who support the GFA, who support Irish Unity and oppose Brexit to stand together.

“There is a need to redefine relationships across Ireland and to build a unity of purpose opposed to Brexit and to promote unity, democracy, and prosperity.

“All of this puts a huge onus on the Taoiseach.

“He must respect the vote of the people in the north and advocate for all of Ireland in his upcoming meetings with the British Prime Minister.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin Ó Broin has welcomed a ‘breakthrough in the Balgaddy community garden’ His comments come on foot of a proposal made to South Dublin County Council by the Dublin Diocese.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The dispute over the ownership of the land at Balgaddy Community Garden has been ongoing now for over a year. It has caused great anxiety and anger within the local community.

“Sinn Féin along with others have been working both formally though the Council and informally through meetings with others to try and resolve this matter.

“It has always been our view that a solution could be found that would allow the garden to continue in its current location without ion any way preventing the future development of the Bush Centre on its current location.

“Earlier this year having requested a formal legal opinion from the Council on the matter I proposed that the Council write to the St Laurence O’Toole Trust seeing if they were willing to reach an agreement with the Council that would resolve the situation. The proposal involved a new agreement that would allow the land on which the Community Garden is located to remain in public ownership.

“I am delighted that the Dublin Diocese have now made a formal proposal to South Dublin County Council which I believe will resolve the dispute. IO want to commend those involved within the Dublin Diocese who have worked hard on this matter behind the scenes for a number of months.

“The proposal would  involve a new Section 183 land disposal that would give the Dublin Diocese legal title to the land which is currently being used for car parking while leaving the land where the community garden is situated in the ownership of the Council. Any future development of the Bush Centre would take place on the site where the centre is currently located. 

“In my view such a package would represent a significant gain for the local community and on that basis I believe that the Council should waive the original fee from the 1997 land disposal. The proposal represents a victory for common sense and will go a long way to building the strained relationships between the parish and the local community.

“I would urge the Council and Councillors to support this proposal and adopt a new Section 183 Land Disposal as soon as is possible. I would also urge the Council to enter into an agreement with the Balgaddy Community Garden to regularise their use of the land to give this valuable project the security it deserves.” 

Note to editor: Map of proposal from Dublin Diocese attached.

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said being dragged out of the EU would hit border communities particularly badly. 

Ms Anderson said; 

"I met today with members of the Confederation of Community Groups in Newry to discus the potential impact of the EU referendum. 

"The border region has suffered immensely as a result of partition and any hardening of the border will only have a negative impact on the lives of people who live, work and study in the area. 

"The people of the North voted to reject that and I would encourage all interested groups to raise their voices to ensure the democratic wishes of the majority who voted to remain are respected." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said the British Prime Minister should respect the democratic wishes of the people in the North to remain in the EU. 

Speaking after meeting Theresa May to discuss the implications of Brexit, Mr McGuinness said; 

"I made it clear to the British Prime Minister that the democratically expressed wishes of the people of the North who see their future in Europe and voted to remain in Europe should be respected. 

"The Tories have no mandate here in the North and I made it clear to Theresa May that I will continue to advocate for the majority of people in the North who voted to remain in the EU. 

"There is no good news whatsoever about Brexit. Billions of pounds would be lost to the people of the North as a result of Brexit and I raised that directly with the British Prime Minister. 

cleardot.gif"I also raised the issue of a border and made it clear that we are totally opposed to any border of any description whether it is for trade or the free movement of people. 

"There are special circumstances in the North and the British Prime Minister has a responsibility to recognise that and respect the democratic wishes of the people."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the international community needs to act to tackle illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. 

The Sinn Féin MEP said; 

"Just this week Israel has advanced plans to build 770 houses in the illegal settlement of Gilo, on the Palestinian towns of Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and Wallajeh. 

"Despite the ban on the extension of settlements, Israel is aggressively continuing with what is effectively a land grab. 

"And they are doing this with apparent impunity as the international community watches on. 

"It is unacceptable that Israel can continue to treat the people of Palestine and international law with disdain. 

"The international community has a responsibility to act to tackle the illegal Israeli settlement expansion.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has expressed his condolences following the deaths of two women on the Church Road outside Randalstown today. 

Mr Kearney said; 

"The deaths of two women on the Church Road outside Randalstown early this morning have caused a deep sense of shock and sadness in the local area. 

“Any death on our roads is one death too many. 

"I send my condolences to the family and friends of the two women at this sad and difficult time.

“I also hope that the others who were injured in this incident make a full recovery.”


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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has said the British government must release funding for inquests into conflict-related deaths. 

Speaking after joining the Ballymurphy Massacre families at Stormont this morning, Ms McCann said; 

"I and other Sinn Féin representatives joined the Ballymurphy families at Stormont today ahead of the visit by British Prime Minster Theresa May. 

"It is important that Theresa May recognises the responsibility of her government to deal with the legacy of the past. 

"At today's meetings Martin McGuinness will be raising the need for Theresa May and the British government to release funds for inquests into conflict-related inquests, in line with the proposal from the Lord Chief Justice. 

"The British government cannot keep denying truth to grieving families, some of whom have been waiting for more than 40 years. 

"Sinn Féin will continue to support the Ballymurphy families in their campaign for truth."

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Housing, Planning, and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin has expressed alarm at media reports that property investment fund Bartra Capital is planning to buy part V social housing obligations and lease them back to local authorities for profit.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Reports that a property investment fund is launch a €100m fund to purchase Part V social housing obligations from property developers or local authorities are effectively moves towards the privatisation of social housing provision.

“The proposal as reported in yesterday's Sunday Business Post suggests that an investment fund will buy out a private developers Part V commitments, build the units and lease them back to the state for profit. 

“If this report is accurate, then what should be social housing owned by the state will become private housing leased back to the state at greater cost with less benefits to tenants and communities.

“The current Part V obligations are only 10% of the housing development. Instead of these units being added to the State’s social housing stock via local authorities or approved housing bodies, they will be privatised adding further to the government’s over reliance on private sector to fill the gap left by its failure to build sufficient social housing units. 

“With only 75 social housing units built by local authorities in 2015, Part V obligations, however limited, add much needed housing units to the social housing stock.

“The Housing Action Plan suggests that up to 6,000 real social houses will be produced a year for the next six years. How many of these units will be owned by property investment funds, like Bartra Capital, for a profit?

“The government cannot continue to over rely on the private sector to meet all the various and complex housing needs of its citizens.

“In the Social Housing Bill 2016, Sinn Féin proposed to increase the Part V commitments to at least 25%. We need more state or AHB owned housing units, not less. 

“Minister Coveney needs to clarify what exactly are his plans for Part V and state how he plans to regulate the movement of property investment funds into the social housing ‘market’.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has welcomed the publication of a major report calling for the preparation of an all-Ireland transport strategy. 

Speaking after the launch of a joint IBEC/CBI report, the Sinn Féin infrastructure spokesperson said; 

"This report from IBEC and the CBI sets out the need to plan for a prosperous island of ten million people. 

"In particular I welcome its call for an all-Ireland transport strategy to ensure that people, goods and services can move freely across the island. 

“This report is timely in the wake of the Brexit vote which could see a return of a physical border and trade barriers.

"If we are to ensure joined up thinking between the island's motorways, rail networks, ports and airports for the benefit of our people and economy then the British government needs to respect the vote to Remain. 

"The future of Ireland's economy lies in unity and it is important that we prepare on an all-Ireland basis for a modern, efficient infrastructure and transport network.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann had condemned a gun attack on a young man in the Poleglass area of west Belfast. 

The West Belfast MLA said; 

"This attack on a young man in the Laurelbank area of Poleglass was wrong and I condemn it. 

"There can be no place for these type of incidents in our society. 

"I would call on anyone with information on this shooting to being it forward to the PSNI." 

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Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has expressed his sadness at the fire at Vernon Mount House, at Grange Douglas last night.

Speaking last night, the Cork South Central TD said:

“I am deeply saddened and dismayed at the news of the fire at Vernon Mount. It is a terrible loss to our history and heritage in Cork, an incalculable loss given the value and history of the architecture and artistry inside. It was one of the last remaining Houses from that period in this part of the Country, and contained original work by the famed artist, Nathaniel Grogan.

 “I have spoken to local Cllr Eoghan Jeffers, and we have been speaking to many local residents, and there is a feeling of devastation and disbelief in the Community, who treasured this local asset.

“The House and its lands have been a central part to the childhood of many children growing up in this part of the Cork for generations. It is desperate that it was allowed to fall in to such disrepair in recent years. However, it is much worse still that this catastrophic fire may have effectively destroyed this history.

“As a Cllr, and in cooperation with then Sandra McLellan TD, I had previously raised the need for the state and Council to step in to halt the decline, and restore this House, as a centre piece of the excellent plans developed by Grange Frankfield Partnership, along with the Councils, for Tramore Valley Park. Sadly, it appears that may no longer be possible, and that this remarkable House and its history may be lost to us for good.

“It is a terrible blow to Cork’s heritage and a very sad day for the Grange Frankfield Community.” 

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Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly is calling for support for her motion to ban the use of wild animals in circuses at tomorrow night’s Dublin City Council meeting.

Speaking ahead of the meeting she said,

“The use of wild animals in circuses is outdated and cruel.  Animals such as elephants, giraffes, tigers, zebra and sea-lions are forced to perform tricks that are completely unnatural to them.

“Some of these animals are chained or caged for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, only to be let out for performances.

“Bans have been implemented in many Europeans countries which is great to see but it has also placed Ireland at risk of becoming a dumping ground for wild animals circuses.

“The recent comments from Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, about banning the use of wild animals is very disappointing and my motion is calling on him to bring in the legislation as soon as possible.

“My motion further calls for land owned by Dublin City Council not to be used for circuses who use wild animals until such a time as legislation is brought in.

“There is a huge opportunity to regulate circuses and revitalise them by having more acts of an artistic nature.

“Anyone that thinks forcing animals to perform tricks under the threat of violence is entertainment is highly misguided.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin is calling for all parties and independents to support tomorrow's solidarity protest at Lynam's Hotel.

Speaking ahead of the protest Councillor Daithí Doolan, Chairperson of Dublin City Councils housing committee said;

"This is a time for solidarity and action. We will be showing solidarity with the families left in Lynam's Hotel. It is unacceptable that families are being forced to leave and seek emergency accommodation elsewhere. I have written to all political parties and independents on Dublin City Council asking that they support tomorrow's action. 

"We are calling on the Department of Housing and NAMA to work with Dublin City Council to ensure the new buyer remains an agent for the city council and continues to provide emergency accommodation to Dublin’s homeless families.

”The government claims that housing is a priority for them. Here is an opportunity to prove it. A phone call from Minister Coveney to NAMA could solve this current crisis.

“Families who are already traumatised by homelessness must be provided for and protected from any further upset. I firmly believe that if all political parties work together we can bring a solution to his awful situation.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has condemned an arson attack on Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church.

The South Belfast MLA said:

“I condemn this attack; it is the second attack on a church in South Belfast in recent months.

“As with the previous attack the people behind this attack are targeting a hub of community endeavour and a place of worship and peace building.

“My thoughts are with the congregation of Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church.

“I have been in contact with them and I know they will not be deflected from their good work by this senseless act.

“I would call on anyone with information to contact the police.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly has commended all those involved in organising today’s special event to mark 50 years of Ballymun.

Speaking at the event she said:

“Firstly I want to congratulate all those involved in today’s celebrations in Ballymun.

AXIS in collaboration with Dublin City Council and Supervalu have organised a fantastic free family fun day for everyone.

It is great to see the community come together and celebrate everything that is great about Ballymun and to remember the last 50 years and how things have changed so much.

Residents of all ages and from all parts of Ballymun are here today to share memories and make some new ones.”

She further added,

“Today is not the end of the celebrations. Throughout the next few weeks a camper van will be going to all corners of Ballymun and Axis will be surprising some local residents whose birthday falls around this time.

Events like these are really important for Ballymun as it brings people together and shows a really positive side of the area.

I look forward to all the future events and the next 50 years of Ballymun.” 

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