Here is the much celebrated video shown at Sinn Féin's An Chéad Dáil event in the Mansion House Round Room on January 12, 2019. Sinn Féin former Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha wrote and presents this historic and inspiring reflection of the events of 100 years ago.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on rural affairs Martin Kenny TD asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring what preparations or contingency planning is being carried out to address a no-deal Brexit for rural communities especially in the border region.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Kenny said:
“The border in Ireland is a most unnatural border because it breaks townlands and parishes and cuts through the whole of rural Ireland. It is a very rural area.
“I would like an assurance from the Minister and his Department that plans are in place to invest in those areas in the context of Brexit.
"Those areas will need an absolute commitment that we can pour money into them to try and ensure the negative impacts of Brexit will be curtailed.
“We really need a plan to seek additional funds particularly from Europe because this is a European problem, not just an Irish problem, although Ireland will meet the biggest impact of it."
Speaking of small businesses along the border, the Sligo-Leitrim TD said:
“These are businesses in transport, agri-food and a whole range of sectors. I spoke to a man last week who is importing products.
"He feels he will face serious problems, particularly with VAT, because, if Britain is out of the European Union, he will have to pay the VAT when he imports goods, rather than when he sells them.
“That will have a huge impact on him and his business and he is not even prepared as to how to do the paperwork around that, let alone how he will pay for it.
“He spoke to the bank about it. Will he get the resources he needs? Will he get an extension of the credit he needs to do that? There is no answer there. It is issues like that on which the Government needs to come in and show that it has the resources in place to protect these small businesses.
“The reason why we are in this position is because of a conflict between a member of the European Union and the European Union itself.
“If Europe is saying it is prepared to stand behind us when it comes to the backstop and all of these matters, funds must be put in place to do this.
"There is no good in saying that they stand behind us in poverty. That is the way it is going to end up in a lot of areas in rural Ireland where we be do not have the resources or the capacity to build into the future.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD is to publish details of his ‘No Consent, No Sale Bill’ which aims to ensure that no mortgage can be sold to a vulture fund without the consent of the mortgage holder.
This is already provided for in a Central Bank Code of Practice but it is the only code of practice which is voluntary.
It states: “A loan secured by the mortgage of residential property may not be transferred without the written consent of the borrower.”
Teachta Doherty’s Bill seeks put this code of practice on a statutory footing in what he describes as a start in Sinn Féin’s campaign to defeat the vultures and end the arrears crisis.
Speaking at a briefing on the issue in Leinster House today, alongside iCare Housing CEO David Hall, and Carly Bailey, whose mortgage was sold to a Vulture, Deputy Doherty said:
“In November of last year, a State-owned bank that had been bailed out by the Irish people, brazenly announced that it was selling over 6,000 family home loans to an unknown entity.
“This was a new low in Irish banking- these loans were meeting their arrangement. They were being thrown to the vultures despite doing the right thing of engaging and making a permanent arrangement with the bank.
“It is fundamentally unfair and I believe unacceptable to most Irish people. Yet the government and Central Bank will not act to stop it.
“Our bill, which will be introduced tomorrow, simply puts into law the Code of Practice the Central Bank itself wrote in the nineties.
“The Code is voluntary which means it is not issued under Section 117 of the Central Bank Act. Indeed, as we saw from Permanent TSB the bankers don’t even know of its existence – that is about to change.
“In the last Dáil, Minister Michael Noonan told Paschal Donohue TD with regard to the Code of Practice on the Transfer of Mortgages that: ‘Notwithstanding its voluntary nature, I expect that best practice dictates that the Code be applied by all institutions to all classes of residential property’.
“That was only six years ago, so what has changed and why?
“This Bill marks a start in Sinn Féin’s campaign to defeat the vultures and end the arrears crisis.”
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Education and Skills Kathleen Funchion TD has said that until the government recognises that the absence of pay equalisation for teachers is at the root cause of the crisis, “staffing numbers will continue to drop and student education will continue to suffer”.
Commenting today on TUI’s survey of 150 schools, which highlights the ongoing recruitment and retention difficulties that are having a negative impact, Deputy Funchion said:
“The findings of this TUI survey reaffirm that this government’s chronic lack of investment in public services is directly connected to the staffing shortages we are experiencing in our schools.
“Just as we are witnessing with the Nursing unions and the current dispute over pay and staff shortages in the Health sector, the recruitment and retention difficulties in the Education sector have also reached crisis point.
“The TUI survey found that out of 150 schools, three quarters said they had received no applications for a position in the previous 12 months.
“54% said their school had unfilled vacancies, over half of the total number surveyed.
“90% said they believed recruitment and retention difficulties had impacted negatively on the service they provided to students.
“This government must immediately tackle pay equalisation for teachers who began employment since 2011 if this trend in staffing shortages is to be reversed.
“The crisis has implications across the sector, in both primary and post-primary schools.
“Schools are forced to advertise and re-advertise positions with minimal uptake and students are paying the price.
“Substitute teachers are doing their best when filling in, but they may not have the qualifications. In primary schools if a teacher is absent two or even three classes are combined.
“This is particularly challenging for any child who has an additional learning need or difficulty.
“Newly qualified teachers are doing an excellent job and are bringing a whole new dynamic to the classroom.
“They are progressive and often very aware of the emotional well-being of children. These teachers deserve to be supported in their roles and receive the respect they deserve; they are entitled to fair pay for the work that they do.
“The Minister must consider the views of the various management bodies, teachers unions and school principals’ on the issues in front of them.
“The findings of this survey should speak loud and clear to the Minister and this Fine Gael Government.”
The Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has called on all parties to support the Occupied Territories Bill and commended Senator Frances Black for bringing it forward.
Speaking in the Dáil McDonald said:
“Just before Christmas, I led a Sinn Féin delegation to the West Bank at the invitation of the Palestinian Legislative Council. While there, we met with all parties elected to that Council and all of them knew about this Bill and held great hope that it be passed.
“The Palestinian people are the victims of a process of colonialization and the building of illegal settlements. They have had their lands taken and rights excluded. Many of those we met had been imprisoned through a form of internment known as administrative detention - a British law that still stands. That includes over 400 children.
“The people we met in Palestine look to Ireland for support. They do so because our nation is no stranger to colonialization and to conflict and they expect us to stand by them.
“We must stand by them and pass the Occupied Territories Bill.”
A meeting of the Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee this morning heard from a range of legal and human rights organisations on ‘the threats posed to rights and equality by Brexit’.
Following the meeting Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said:
“Brexit exposes a human rights and equality crisis.
“The failure of the Irish and British Governments, as well as the EU, to properly legislate for citizens’ rights leaves a significant legal, social and political deficit that has the potential for devastating outcomes for people.
"There is no evidence this is being remedied.
“This morning’s Justice Committee heard a series of sobering contributions outlining the need for rights to be legislatively and legally embedded or else further uncertainty and disarray could potential play out for people in the context of Brexit.
“While understandably much of Government’s Brexit preparations have focused on economic matters citizens remain uncertain as to their future rights and entitlements.
“Our Committee has agreed to compile a report from today’s contributions which we will submit to An Taoiseach and An Tánaiste with urgency.
"It is positive that increasing numbers of six-county voices are heard in the Oireachtas and today’s presentations clearly had an impact on Deputies and Senators in attendance.
“Now we must work to ensure Government and the EU live up to their commitments to defend citizens’ rights.”
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has expressed concern and disappointment after a major conference on the health system’s preparation for Brexit was cancelled for a second time.
The party’s spokesperson for carers and well-being was commenting following the latest postponement of the conference organised by NICON - the Confederation for Health and Social Care organisations here.
The Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA said: "This is the second time this important conference on Brexit preparations within health and social care has been postponed due to a lack of clarity on the Brexit position.
"This time the conference seems to have been postponed indefinitely.
"The very lack of clarity around Brexit emphasises the need for such public discussions to take place.
"I have consistently tried to engage with the Department of Health in meaningful discussions regarding its plans for Brexit but only vague and cumbersome responses have been forthcoming.
"This has been the approach taken by the department generally, and it is a frustration that has been raised with us by a number of groups in the health and social care sector.
"The NICON conference would have been an important platform to have these discussions and to hold the department to account. The decision not to go ahead with it is a mistake.
"I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Department of Health to determine what, if any, meaningful engagement they are having with the sector to update them on Brexit preparedness plans."
Sinn Féin MLA Emma Rogan has added her support to calls for an earlier Strangford Ferry sailing.
Th South Down MLA said:
“The first ferry leaves Portaferry at 7.45am, this ferry is always full with both cars and foot passengers.
“The ferry cuts an hour off the journey to work compared to road so makes a huge difference to a daily commute.
“An earlier sailing would greatly improve the convenience for commuters and alleviate the long queues experienced at the current first sailing.
“I have written to the Department for Infrastructure to ask that they investigate the option of an the earlier sailing.”
The Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Taoiseach of “dancing on the head of a pin” with respect to the impact of the Children’s Hospital cost overrun on community health projects.
“The Taoiseach is dancing on the head of a pin. He must give a straight answer – what projects will be cut because of the scandalous cost overrun in respect of the National Children’s Hospital?
“The projected cost overrun is at best a fiasco, and at worst, an example of gross incompetence on the part of government and those overseeing the project.
“What is most worrying is - despite the fact that this overrun is set to blow a hole in capital budgets for years to come - that nobody appears to be willing to take responsibility for it.
“The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform - whose function it is to supervise government procurement and public expenditure - has gone into hiding and its Secretary General has refused to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee today to account for their role in the process.
“There is also massive concern in communities across the State about how the overspend will impact on them and on commitments made to fund projects that are badly needed.
“What about the commitment made for a new MRI scanner at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar? What about the second Cath Lab at University Hospital Waterford? What about Drimnagh Primary Care Centre? I could go on and on.
“We need answers to these questions and most importantly we need the Taoiseach to act, without hesitation, and agree to undertake a full and public investigation into what has happened, and ultimately, who is responsible.”
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has urged people to support a demonstration against Brexit taking place at the Carrickarnon on Saturday.
The Newry/Armagh MLA said:
“Many people are rightly concerned at the prospect of a hard border on the island as a result of the reckless Brexit agenda being pursed by the hardline Brexiteers and the DUP.
“This reckless position seeks to push our economy over a cliff edge, threatens our peace agreements and is against the wishes of citizens north and south.
“It’s important that we send Theresa May, EU27 and the Irish government a very clear message; there can be no return to a hard border in Ireland.
“I am urging people to come out in large numbers to support Border Communities Against Brexit’s rally on Saturday at 3pm in Carrickarnon.”
Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson has said it’s hypocritical of the DUP to talk about concerns over peace funding when its MEP Dianne Dodds voted against funding extensions and continues to support Brexit.
Martina Anderson said:
“It’s rich of Dianne Dodds to talk about peace funding now when she voted against an extension to funding in the European Parliament in July 2016
“And let’s not forget that her party supported and continue to support Brexit despite the democratic wishes of the majority of people of the north.
“What did Dianne Dodds and the rest of the DUP think was going to happen when they supported hard-line Brexiteers?
“It’s yet another example of the DUPs detachment from reality on Brexit as they continue to pursue delusional policies that will hit the north hardest.”
Sinn Féin Dublin City Cllr Paul Donnelly has expressed his shock at another potential mass eviction from apartments, similar to the situation in Tyrrelstown in 2016.
Cllr Donnelly said:
“I was contacted yesterday morning by a resident of Riverwood Hall apartments who had discovered that nine of his neighbours received tenancy termination Notice to Quit (NTQ) letters from their landlord who was acting on behalf of the new receivers.
“This new owner of these apartments is currently unknown and it is feared that they are breaking the spirit of the new ‘Tyrrelstown legislation’ that was brought in after I exposed an attempted mass eviction of over 150 tenants by a property developer in Tyrrelstown in 2016.
“The fear that this is another attempted mass eviction is because the apartments that have received the NTQ’s are numbers 1 to 10. We know that a number of similar apartments were sold several months ago by the same estate agent in the same development. There are dozens more apartments rented in the same complex.
“I have had contact from a number of other residents over the past 24 hours who are desperately fearful of what is going to happen to them now, they said they have been desperately trying to get new accommodation but without any success.
“I have written to the estate agent involved and have asked that these families be given as much time as is needed to be able to secure appropriate accommodation.
“I am also looking for assurance that this is not an attempt to circumvent the law by carrying out evictions in batches of ten or less.
“I am also looking to ascertain if the real owner of the properties is now NAMA following the appointment of the receiver; if so, then the Taoiseach must step in to stop these evictions.”
Foyle Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed confirmation that key services have now been restored to communities affected by this week’s bomb alerts.
Speaking following a meeting of the Unity of Purpose group with statutory agencies today, the Foyle MP commented: “There is a huge degree of anger and frustration at the bomb attack in Bishop Street at the weekend followed by a series of alerts which caused so much disruption and upset to the people of this city.
“This was compounded by the fact that a number of key services including transport, postal and housing maintenance were suspended due to the threats, causing more hardship to local communities.
“Therefore, I welcome that the statutory agencies were today able to confirm that all services have now been restored. That will be some relief to those families and residents who have borne the brunt of the disruption over recent days.
“Today’s meeting also endorsed a planned public demonstration which will take place on Friday Afternoon at 1pm at the Peace Garden in Foyle Street.
“This event has been organised by the trade union NIPSA and I would urge the people of Derry to come along and show their opposition to those behind the recent mindless attacks and disruption.
“This is an opportunity to demonstrate the positivity, the support and the solidarity that is the real story of Derry – a city that is moving forward and won’t be held back by anyone.”
Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has called on the Department of Education to explain why it took three years to publish a report containing recommendations designed to improve the educational outcomes for children in Irish medium pre-school education.
The party education spokesperson said:
“While I welcome the publishing of the Research on the Educational Outcomes of Pre-School Irish Medium Education I find it quite astonishing that a report designed to benefit young children learning through the medium of Irish has taken three years to publish.
“This move comes on the back of a meeting I held last with the Education Permanent Secretary and officials from Irish Medium schools.
“The recommendations contained within the ‘Research on the Educational Outcomes of Pre-School Irish Medium Education’ are now three years-old. This raises the question is the report and its recommendations out of date and obsolete?
“I would call on Department to review urgently the findings of the report and implement any and all recommendations that remain valid.
“I will be meeting again with Permanent Secretary and I will raise this matter.
“I want to know how the department plans to progress and resource the learning experience of pre-school children taught through the medium of Irish and for the Department to explain why this report lay unpublished for three years.”
Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has said the international community must act to demand the release of Kurdish political leader Abdullah Ocalan, Leyla Guven and all Kurdish political prisoners.
Speaking after hosting a public forum in Westminster, the Mid Ulster MP said:
“Tonight in Westminster I hosted a public forum on Kurdistan bringing together human rights campaigners, legal experts calling for the release of Kurdish political leader Abdullah Ocalan.
“It heard first hand accounts of the repression of the Kurdish people by Turkish authorities and the ongoing denial of human rights.
“At present hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners are on hunger strike in Turkish jails, including Kurdish MP, Leyla Guven who has been on hunger strike for 77 days and is now in a critical condition.
“Abdullah Ocalan, Leyla Guven and all Kurdish political prisoners should be released immediately.
“As Irish republicans we know the value of international solidarity when people across the world stood with us in 1981 during the hunger strikes in Long Kesh so today we are standing in solidarity with the Kurdish people and will continue to do so.
“The international community have a responsibility to act to end Turkish repression and demand the release of Abdullah Ocalan, Leyla Guven and all Kurdish political prisoners.”