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Latest Statements

Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


Commenting on the publication of the Department of Finance's Review of Property-based Tax Incentive Schemes, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Finance spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said: "This report exposes the massive waste of public money involved in these property-based tax reliefs. They have rewarded developers and speculators and were introduced and continued without any cost-benefit analysis. Only now are we getting an estimate of their cost.

"The Report makes clear that these tax reliefs have been seen as primarily as incentives for the construction industry. But they have poured public money into a booming private sector for developments that would have happened anyway, as is clear from the Report. This is public money that should have been spent directly on providing the infrastructure and social services we need. Instead it has mostly benefited individuals whom the Report estimates earn at least €100,000 per year.

"€37 million has been spent on tax breaks for Private Hospitals, thus rewarding the wealthy operators of the thriving private health industry and reinforcing the two-tier public-private system. No public money should have been spent on private hospitals yet the Finance Bill actually extends this tax relief.

"Almost €330 million in tax reliefs has been given to developers of private hospitals, private nursing homes, hotels, holiday cottages and multi-storey car parks. While this Report pulls its punches it can only be read as a damning indictment of Government policy when it recommends that 'the decision to introduce any new tax incentives should be informed by a formal assessment of the likely costs and benefits'. That such a recommendation has to be made now so many years after these reliefs were introduced is a scandal." ENDS


Sinn Féin's Dublin Spokesperson on the Environment, Councillor Daithí Doolan, will tonight table an Emergency Motion calling on Dublin City Council, "to take legal action, including Compulsory Purchase Orders, to ensure that all private parks and squares are opened up to the public in Dublin."

Speaking ahead of tonight's City Council meeting, Cllr. Doolan said, "I will be tabling an Emergency Motion at tonight's Council meeting demanding that City Council use Compulsory Purchase Orders on any private parks or squares with a view to opening them up to the public. The serious issues surrounding Dartmouth Square in Rathmines have clearly shown that private parks have no role in a modern city. It is totally unacceptable that the taxpayer was funding the upkeep and maintenance of a private square and we have a right to know how many other parks are we maintaining for private landlords. My motion will also call on Council officials to carry out an inventory of Dublin's private parks and squares maintained by City Council to ascertain who legally owns these parks & squares and to obtain appropriate legal title, including exercising Council's power of compulsory acquire title, over the ownership of these maintained parks & squares.'

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan, called on Management, "to initiate the legal proceedings as soon as possible and ensure that private parks become a thing of the past in today's Dublin." ENDS

For further information call Cllr. Daithí Doolan 086-8534666.

Emergency Motion reads:

In light of the issues concerning Dartmouth Square and to protect public access to all parks & squares maintained by Dublin City Council. This Council resolves:

a) To carry out an inventory of Dublin's private parks and squares maintained by City Council

b) Ascertain who legally owns these parks & squares,

c) To obtain appropriate legal title, including exercising Council's power of compulsory acquire title, over the ownership of these maintained parks & squares

d) To use Compulsory Purchase Orders on any other private parks or squares with a view to opening them up to the public.


The DUP Mayor of Coleraine Cllr Timothy Deans has apologised to Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard for trying to exclude him and his colleagues from a Christmas reception, paid for by the ratepayers.It is thought that this is the first time a DUP representative has had to admit that he acted against the law and apologise to a Sinn Féin representative as a result of legal proceedings. Seven unionist councillors now face the threat of being surcharged as a result.

Cllr Leonard instigated High Court proceedings against the Mayor and Coleraine Borough Council under Equality legislation. It is believed that the council received legal advice to settle out of court because they were on very weak legal ground and Leonard was bound to win.

The Sinn Féin councillor said:

"This was a clear cut case of misrepresenting the ratepayer. The DUP mayor tried to pursue his party policy of excluding Sinn Féin from a function paid for by the ratepayer. It didn‚t work and perhaps the DUP in Coleraine and elsewhere will learn from this episode.

"There may be only one Sinn Féin councillor on Coleraine Borough Council but we as a party are determined to pick our challenges wisely. I believe this is the first time that the DUP have admitted that they acted against the law and apologised to a Sinn Féin representative.

"Eight months into this Council term and Sinn Féin has drawn a firm line against unionist intransigence and there will be more."

And Leonard is determined not to let the question of costs rest.

"Sinn Féin has already notified the Local Government Auditor of its opinion that the seven councillors who voted for this exclusion should be personally liable for the costs of this case. Local electors will now take the necessary action to instigate this process.

"Seven councillors cannot act in this way and think there is no comeback. That is why Sinn Féin proposed a motion before the event and demanded a recorded vote. If six DUP councillors, including the Mayor, and one Ulster Unionist councillor believe that they can act against equality legislation they need to pay for the case that has proved otherwise." ENDS


Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan has expressed his concern at the undue delay in processing applications for disabled grant aid. The Sinn Féin Office in Dunloy has recently dealt with constituents, who have faced such lengthy delays, that they have passed away before their applications have been dealt with.

Mr McGuigan said:

"The first point of delay for applicants is waiting for the Occupational Therapist's (OTs) visit for assessment which can be up to a year in some cases. The next hold-up is for a referral to the Housing Executive for Grant Aid, followed by yet another waiting period to account for means testing, to see if an applicant qualifies for a grant. Again the wait can be quite lengthy. In many instances it is then passed onto the Housing Organisation FOLD for the tendering process.

"This entire process is clearly much too lengthy, especially given the sometimes terminal conditions of those applying. One example of this is how people are sometimes subjected to the ongoing indignity of a bed-bath as opposed to a shower.

"The red tape involved in disabled grant aid is absolutely enormous. And whilst I welcome the move to direct referrals to OTs by-passing other agencies, from the 1st February, I do not think it goes far enough, especially given the fact that there is an acute shortage of OTs in the first place.

"There is also a similar problem regarding the waiting list to see a rheumatologist in the Causeway Trust Area. The delay for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and associated conditions can be over 2 years.

"If measures were taken to shorten this the condition could be arrested at a much earlier stage as opposed to the patient suffering unnecessarily."ENDS


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has extended his "deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Eileen Haddock (nee Hickey) who has died after a long and courageous battle against illness."

Mr. Adams said:

"Eileen comes from one of those spinal Belfast republican families which in times of great danger and challenge helped organise and sustain the republican struggle. In 1973 she was arrested and spent four and a half years in prison. While there she was Armagh Women's Prison's first Republican O.C. (Officer Commanding). She formed the women prisoners into a coherent republican structure and was a determined spokesperson for them in negotiations and arguments with the prison administration.

On her release in 1977 she returned to republican activism. She was a stalwart,hard working republican enormously respected by all who knew her.

She also returned to education and qualified as a teacher. Eileen recognised
that there was a section of children and young people falling out of full
time education in West Belfast. Some were being expelled, some just dropped
out, and others were having real problems learning in the formal classroom
environment. She began teaching in Fr. Des Wilson's Springhill project. In
Springhill, and
subsequently in Conway Mill when the school moved there, Eileen proved an
effective teacher. She had a remarkable ability to motivate the young people
she taught. She also was principally responsible for introducing exams into
the curriculum for the youngsters.

Conway Mill is also renowned for its art and theatre activities and Eileen
ensured that these were an integral part of the experience of the young
people who attended her classes.

Eileen and her husband Johnny Haddock were very much part of the Sean O'Neill craft shop which provided local artists and designers an opportunity to showcase their work. And she was also very much involved in the 'Prisoners Day' exhibition held each August in the Felon's Club as part of Féile an Phobail. Eileen and several close friends and colleagues were very keen on opening a museum in the Mill that would reflect the story of
republicanism in Belfast. They established the Irish republican History Museum Committee and were given the An tSean Mhuillean club in the Mill as the site for their museum. This has required much refurbishment and the gathering of artefacts from the 1940s and on.

Eileen published an excellent book, entitled 'Essays on Irish History through Verse' the proceeds from which went to the Museum. In many ways all of this was entirely appropriate. Conway Mill was very much at the heart of events in 1969. In its shadow Catholic families were driven from their homes by loyalist mobs and the RUC and later, as Fr. Des, Tom Cahill, Eileen and others tried to maximise the potential of Conway Mill to provide employment in west Belfast, it was one of the first projects to suffer political
vetting by the British government. In 2003 mural artists honoured those visionaries who in 1982 established Conway Mill and included on the mural, which can still be seen, is Eileen and Elsie Best.

Eileen was a dedicated republican activist and community leader who made a significant contribution to improving the quality of life of many of those she came into contact with, particularly the young people.

To her family and friends I want to extend on behalf of the entire republican community and the people of west Belfast our deepest sympathies and condolences." ENDS


On the eve of the commencement of talks on the restoration of the
institutions Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has called on the British government to "lift the suspension of the political institutions as quickly as possible as a means to injecting much needed renewed momentum and confidence back into the process.'

Mr. McGuinness said:

'It is undeniable that the situation today is entirely transformed from what is was 10 or 20 years ago.

Following the IRA initiatives of last year the potential for further significant political progress and stability has never been better.

The republican contribution to all of this has been substantial and is irrefutable. At every step Sinn Féin has given clear leadership, we have taken risks for peace and made the hard decisions.

Republicans have been, along with others, the peace makers.

But there are those whose objective is to wreck the peace - the peace breakers. They are to be found in the unionist political parties who hanker after the old days of unionist domination. They are in the Special Branch and British security system.

They are the people who provide the unsubstantiated allegations, including DUP supporters in the Special Branch, that make up the nonsense which is presented as an IMC report.

The two governments need to deal with the absurdity of this situation.

The commencement of the talks tomorrow is evidence, we are told, of the two governments clear intention to sdee the political institutions restored to full working order in this year.

Consequently, the next few months will be the most challenging and crucial since the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

In my view most people are fed up with the endless, repetitive circular arguments that pass for politics. Each day brings more news of job losses, cutbacks, reviews in public spending, changes to our health, education and other services, and all being done by unaccountable British Ministers.

This is an untenable situation. It obviously does not serve the interests of nationalists and unionists.

Tomorrow presents an opportunity to change all of this. Hard choices will soon have to be made by the DUP." ENDS


Mid-Ulster MP Martin Mc Guinness has expressed his shock at the tragic news of the deaths of Anne Mc Bride and her daughter Shauneen and the injuries to three other family members in a road traffic accident near Cookstown on Friday evening.

Mr Mc Guinness said:

“I extend my sincere condolences to my friend Damien and the wider Mc Bride family in these tragic circumstances. My thoughts and prayers are with them and I wish a speedy recovery to the other family members who were injured in the accident.


“I have known the Mc Bride family for many years and I can only imagine the pain and suffering that they are experiencing at this terrible time. I send my condolences and those of the republican family on their bereavement to the Mc Bride family.” ENDS


At their National Congress in Dublin this afternoon, Ógra Shinn Féin launced a nationwide suicide prevention campaign.  This campaign will focus on the dissemination of information and the demand for an all Ireland approach to suicide awareness. It will also lobby the Irish and British governments to ensure that suicide prevention receives the priority, the funding and resources it requires.


Announcing details of the campaign Ógra Shinn Féin National Executive member from Derry Andrea O’Keane said:


“People taking their own lives or attempting to take their own lives is a major social issue on the island of Ireland.  It is estimated internationally that 1 million people take their own lives every year. Ireland has the second highest suicide rate in Europe, this rate has increased by more than 25% over the last decade. Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in Ireland therefore it is imperative that Ógra begin campaigning and disseminating information on this issue.


“There were 577 reported deaths by suicide in the year 2003-2004, a greater death toll than the number of people killed in road traffic accidents over the same time period and although statistics are strikingly high amongst young men, suicide transcends class, gender, and age, ethnic or religious background. It is suggested that the death toll from suicide over the last 35 years may be even greater than the number of people killed as a result of the political conflict.


“Ógra Shinn Féin’s campaign will focus on the dissemination of information and the demand for an all Ireland approach to suicide awareness. It will also lobby the Irish and British governments to ensure that suicide prevention receives the priority, the funding and resources it requires.


Speaking at the Congress Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP commended their campaign on suicide awareness and prevention.  The Sinn Fein leader also revealed that the Minister of Health Mary Harney has yet to formally reply to repeated requests from him to meet on the issue of suicide prevention.


Mr. Adams said:


“Ireland has the second highest incidence of suicide in Europe. That is a startling and depressing statistic which disguises the human cost in lives lost and of families bereaved and left grieving.

It is the biggest killer of young people in our country. That makes suicide a national disaster. Our country urgently needs a national plan to address this crisis.


In the 26 Counties the government established a Suicide Task Force some years ago which has seen welcome progress being made. In the north we need a regional plan for suicide prevention.

But the issue of suicide also needs to be tackled on an all-Ireland basis. Specifically it should be made an area of co-operation under the auspices of the North-South Ministerial Council.

In that context I welcome meetings between the Health Minister Mary Harney and the British Health Minister Shaun Woodward.

However, I have yet to receive a formal response from the Minister of Health Mary Harney to repeated requests from me for a meeting to discuss this issue. I first asked for a meeting with her in May of last year and my office has been in regular contact with Ms Harney’s officials since then.

Concern about suicide is greatest in local communities. Alongside the anguish of bereavement, there is a growing sense of burn-out. Families do not receive the support they need to cope with the strain of someone who is feeling suicidal, or with the aftermath of someone who takes his or her own life. Many other parents carry a sense of dread, worrying about the fate of their own children.

The Ógra Shinn Féin Suicide prevention campaign being launched today is aimed at increasing awareness about this problem, particularly but not exclusively among young people.”ENDS





Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will today address the National Conference of Ógra Shinn Féin, the party's youth organisation, which is meeting in Dublin City centre.  Mr. Adams praised their efforts across a range of campaigns and issues; commended their campaign on suicide awareness and prevention which they are now commencing; described them as the future of Sinn Fein. The Sinn Fein leader also revealed that the Minister of Health Mary Harney has yet to formal reply to repeated requests from him to meet on the issue of suicide prevention.

But the bulk of his remarks were directed at the DUP whose party conference is being held in Belfast today.

Reminding his young audience that this weekend 25 years ago Ian Paisley was on a hillside in North Antrim with 500 men in military formation waving firearms certificates in the air Mr. Adams said:

"Today, and in no small part because of the refusal of republicans to be smashed, the context for Ian Paisley's conference has changed.

"Sinn Fein rejects any two-tier approach, any two stages proposition, or British appointed Commissioners to run the north.

"Another round of talks starts on Monday. The talks cannot be only for the optics.

"The DUP have to be given the chance to put their ideas to the rest of us and Sinn Féin will listen attentively and respectfully to everyone's ideas.

"But the main objective of these talks has to be to end the suspension of the political institutions within a short time-frame.

"The two governments have received that very clear message from us. Now is the time for the two governments to act. Rhetoric is not enough."

Text of Mr. Adams comments

"I want to deal briefly with the peace process and in particular with the DUP's attitude to the Good Friday Agreement. We are Irish republicans, the Good Friday Agreement is a compromise for us. Republicans should not be afraid of the idea of making such compromises, it is essentially a strategic decision by us to advance the process of change - the process of reconquest - in our country. Our analysis is a democratic one. The British government has no right to be in our country. Partition is immoral; and illegitimate. The British connection, the Union, needs to be replaced by an entirely new relationship based on equality.

Unionism is a child of the British connection. It has depended on force or the threat of force to get its way since the orange card was first played by British politicians in the 19th century. No one has mastered that tactic better than Ian Paisley.

Mr. Paisley's connections with unionist paramilitarism go back over 40 years and in that time he has, at one time or another, publicly allied himself to every major unionist paramilitary group.

When he disagreed with the existing paramilitary groups he simply went out and formed his own – the Third Force and subsequently Ulster Resistance are two examples.

Today Ian Paisley will address his party conference in Belfast.

25 years ago this weekend it was a different setting. On that occasion Mr. Paisley was standing on a hillside in the semi-darkness near Ballymena in County Antrim. He was facing 500 men drawn up in military formation. At the blast of a whistle they jumped to attention and each displayed what Ian Paisley described as 'a legally held firearms certificate'.

When asked what this meant he told the watching journalists; 'It means that these men hold guns legally and they are prepared to defend their province and their rights in the same way as Lord Carson and the men of the UVF were prepared'.

A few days earlier the DUP leader had launched his Carson Trail series of rallies and signed a 'covenant' in imitation of that signed in 1912 by unionists opposed to Home Rule. Mr. Paisley's 'covenant' committed the signatories to 'using all means which may be found necessary' to defend their piece of Ulster.

Today these sort of theatrics will not work. The DUP's 'Smash Sinn Féin' campaign in the 1980's did not work.

Even when Loyalist murder gangs operating in collusion with British intelligence and the RUC Special Branch gunned down more than 20 Sinn Féin Councillors, party members and family members in their efforts to smash Sinn Féin that did not work. They failed also.

The political conditions have changed and the DUP's ostrich like approach to this reality will not reverse that.

Today, and in no small part because of the refusal of republicans to be smashed, the context for Ian Paisley's conference has changed.

No amount of rhetoric or bombast can disguise that.

Sinn Féin is now the largest nationalist party in the north – we are the largest pro-Agreement party – we are the guarantee that there will be no return to unionist domination or second class citizenship.

Sinn Féin has demonstrated a determination and resolve to vigorously oppose any diminution, erosion, or subversion of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein rejects any two-tier approach, any two stages proposition, or British appointed Commissioners to run the north.

The Good Friday Agreement is an inclusive agreement rooted in equality and inclusiveness. It underpins the rights of all sections of our people.

It is an international Treaty voted for overwhelmingly in referendum by the people in both states on this island.

Sinn Féin's objective is to secure full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the restoration of the political institutions.

That is the reality facing Ian Paisley today as he addresses his party conference.

This party stands ready to work with the DUP. We do so already in Councils across the north and we did in the Assembly when it functioned.

Each day British direct rule Ministers take decisions on spending reviews, health, education, the environment, energy and other matters which adversely effect every citizen in the north and have a knock-on effect throughout the whole island.

The DUP's refusal to work with Sinn Féin in government is allowing this to continue.

That is the challenge for the DUP. It is also a challenge for the unionist business community, for civic society, for community groups and church groups.

Another round of talks starts on Monday. The talks cannot be only for the optics.

The DUP have to be given the chance to put their ideas to the rest of us and Sinn Féin will listen attentively and respectfully to everyone's ideas.

But the main objective of these talks has to be to end the suspension of the political institutions within a short time-frame.

The two governments have received that very clear message from us. Now is the time for the two governments to act. Rhetoric is not enough."ENDS

 Mr. Adams will make his address to the conference at 1.30pm, today Saturday 4th in the ATGWU Hall, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1.


Speaking after the debate in the European Parliament Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has called for EU member states to take a more coordinated approach to tackling violence agains women.

Ms de Brún said:

"Violence against women is a fundamental violation of human rights and reflects the continuing unequal gender power relations in our society.

"EU member states need to adopt an approach in policy making capable of encompassing all of this issue, including effective methods of prevention and punishment.

"We need to establish in fact a zero tolerance attitude to all forms of violence against women, and to adopt a framework for cooperation between governmental and non-governmental organisations with a view to developing policies and practices to combat the phenomenon of domestic violence.

"The EU should also consider the appointment of national rapporteurs to gather, exchange and process information and statistics on men's violence against women, including information on children growing up in violent environments, and promote the exchange of best practice between Member States and the accession and candidate countries.

"In addition we need to see appropriate education and training for professionals responsible for recording incidents and data relating to domestic violence so that they carry out their duties with the required consistency.

"These are just some of the measures contained in a detailed report by Maria Carlshamre MEP which the European Parliament has now adopted with overwhelming support.I strongly endorse Mrs Carlshamre's report and recommendations and urge all MEPs and member state governments to implement these as a matter of urgency." ENDS


Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has said the Education Minister Mary Hanafin "must urgently address the problems facing primary school principals before we have a crisis on our hands." Speaking after attending the annual conference of the Irish Primary Principals Network deputy Crowe said the Minister "has a brass neck coming to this conference only to tell delegates to stop moaning."

He said, "Minister Hanafin has a brass neck coming here only to tell delegates to stop moaning. If she was on top of her brief primary school teachers would have nothing to moan about.

"Rather than patronising delegates with her arrogant remarks the Minister must urgently address the problems facing primary school principles before we have a serious crisis on our hands. There needs to be a job description in place for primary principles, one that properly befits the role of the school leader along professional standards and there should be a contract put in place with a proper salary structure to encourage people to aspire to become a school principals." ENDS


Sinn Féin Fisheries spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has congratulated the fishermen who took part in today's protest against the new fisheries legislation. Deputy Ferris encouraged the fishermen to keep the pressure on the Government until they finally get the message that this Bill is totally unacceptable.

He said, "Having been in touch with the many of the fishermen who took part in today's protests including the fishermen from Kerry and from Cork I am aware of the level of anger and determination throughout the whole country. I congratulate the men on the way they conducted themselves today in what was a very successful protest and I would encourage them to continue to put pressure on the Government until they finally get the message that this Bill is unacceptable.

"For my part I will continue to speak out against the Bill and push for my amendments to be adopted to overturn the punitive measures that the Bill contains. I will also continue to point out that the Common Fisheries Policy, which has been a disaster for the Irish fishing industry must be completely overhauled." ENDS


Speaking in advance of this weekends Ogra Sinn Féin conference and next weeks political talks Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP today said that the Sinn Fein focus in the coming period was to defend the Good Friday Agreement and press ahead with the restoration of the institutions. Mr McGuinness also criticised the current approach of the SDLP in entertaining proposals outside the terms of the Agreement.

Mr McGuinness said:

“Our agenda for Mondays talks is clear. We will be seeking to defend the Good Friday Agreement and we will be seeking to hold the two governments to their stated objective of seeing a speedy restoration of the political institutions.

“Sinn Féin are not interested in half way houses or institutions without full powers. That is the agenda of those who wish to slow down and stall the process of change.

“Sinn Féin, as the largest nationalist and pro-Agreement party, will not allow ourselves to be deflected from the task ahead. People voted for the Agreement and they voted for fully functioning power sharing and all-Ireland institutions. The two governments have a responsibility to reassert the primacy of the political process and the way to do this is by restoring speedily the political institutions and pressing ahead with acting upon the other outstanding matters.

“It is disappointing that the SDLP have given succour to those within the DUP and elsewhere who are seeking to hollow out the power sharing core of the Agreement. The DUP have stated that they have common ground with the SDLP on their proposals for institutions less than the Agreement. The SDLP have themselves admitted being in discussions with the DUP and that they are considering options less than the Good Friday Agreement.

“This is entirely the wrong approach. It mirrors the approach adopted by the SDLP on policing, when they jumped too soon and accepted too little. The SDLP have now become part of the policing establishment and are rewarded with honours from the English Queen. The SDLP now act as cheer leaders for political and partisan policing irrationally opposing Sinn Féin’s efforts to achieve further necessary policing changes

“They have now also set themselves apart form the vast majority of nationalist opinion by accepting without question the unsubstantiated rubbish that makes up the so-called IMC report. In this they have again found common ground with the most negative and extreme voices in the DUP.

“The SDLP have lost their way on a new and entirely anti-republican leadership. The success of Hume/Adams has been replaced by rabid and increasingly hysterical attacks on the Sinn Féin leadership. Their singular focus on Sinn Féin allows the Unionists, the British government and the securocrats off the hook. They need to put the interest of those they represent and the need to see the Good Friday Agreement implemented above their narrow party political resentments and insecurities.” ENDS



Ógra Shinn Féin's National Congress will take place in the ATGWU Hall, Middle Abbey Street in Dublin this weekend.  The Congress will begin on Friday (3rd) and conclude on Sunday 5th. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will address the congress at 1.30pm on Saturday 4th.   Over the weekend young republicans will discuss a range of motions on the peace process, Irish unity and the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strikes.  There are also a range of motions protesting at the giving away of the Corrib gas field, calling for an end to the use of Shannon Airport by US military en route to Iraq and supporting demands for Irish citizens in the Six Counties to be afforded the right to vote in the next Presidential election campaign.      On Saturday Ógra Shinn Féin will announce details of a nationwide suicide prevention campaign.   The Congress will be open to the media between 1pm and 3.30pm on Saturday 4th.


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will meet with representatives of West Belfast based Irish Langauge Development Body Fobairt Feirste at their Falls Road offices 'An Nasc' later morning (11.00am) to receive an update on progress with plans for the development of a designated 'Gaeltacht Quarter' in West Belfast.

Fobairt Feirste has been working along with other Irish Language and Business interests in partnership with representatives of DCAL. DSD and DETI to progress the recommendation of the West Belfast and Greater Shankill Task Force for the creation of a Gaeltacht Quarter Development Board and the creation of a designated Gaeltacht Quarter centred on the Irish Language corridor on the Falls Road.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"Today's briefing with Fobairt Feirste provides an opportunity to receive an update on developments for the Gaeltacht Quarter in the heart of West Belfast. The Irish language has been thriving in recent years across the city of Belfast. In spite of government neglect and indifference to the language both north and south, the Irish language community has worked hard to ensure the sustainability of the education system, cultural and economic sectors.

"The plans for the development of the Gaeltacht Quarter are both exciting and ambitious and are rooted in the recommendation of the Ministerial Task Force which recognised the unique regeneration opportunity presented by properly resourced development of the cultural cluster centred on the Falls Road into a designated Gaeltacht Quarter. Such a development would compliment the massive revival of the language and promote a self
contained area where language enthusiasts can live and work. It would also open up further employment opportunities for Irish speakers and is a unique selling point for the City of Belfast in terms of attracting visitors and potential investors to a vibrant and unique cultural quarter. The Gaeltacht Quarter would undoubtedly become a long term tourist and regeneration centre on the Falls Road.

"It is now essential that there is a strategic focus between local businesses, the Irish language sector, the relevant British government departments and Belfast City Council to prime-pump activity in the area and to the develop a comprehensive business case and development plan for the Gaeltacht Quarter.

"The recent decision to designate Irish as an official working language of the European Union is a testament to the tenacity of Irish language enthusiasts from across Ireland to influence European decision-making. A similar level of commitment to the Gaeltacht Quarter will ensure it comes to fruition and receives the support of the local community as well as that of government.

"I will be also looking to other European regions to look at similar cultural-based regeneration models with a view to facilitating linkages and partnerships and to seeing what lessons which can be learned from them." ENDS

Note to Editor:

Forbairt Feirste was established in 1994 to 'promote our cultural heritage through economic regeneration'. The organisation's main aim is 'the creation of jobs and new opportunities for Belfast's' Irish speaking community'.


Commenting on the expected release by Health Minister Mary Harney of the consultancy report on children's hospital services, Sinn Féin National Chairperson and Dáil candidate Mary Lou McDonald MEP has today challenged Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to explain clearly where he stands on the future of Temple Street Children's Hospital.

Ms McDonald made her comments after it emerged that the report will likely recommend specialist children's surgery be carried out at one hospital in Dublin.

Speaking in advance of the report today Ms McDonald said:

 "As a TD for the constituency in which Temple Street is located, the Taoiseach knows how critical the presence of an accessible children's hospital is to families and their peace of mind."

"The Taoiseach announced as far back as last October that a new hospital to replace Temple Street would go ahead as part of the ?500 million Mater Hospital redevelopment nearby.  The project has full planning permission and was due for tender last autumn and construction scheduled to begin this

"Families on the northside of Dublin are worried that Mary Harney is intent on moving Temple Street Hospital's services miles away on the southside, with all of the problems of access in a city that has enormous problems caused by traffic gridlock.

"The Taoiseach owes it to families to explain what has changed since his declaration in October that the new Mater Hospital/Temple Street Hospital development should go ahead on the northside.

In addition local Councillor Christy Burke added:

"It goes without saying that families living in the northside of the city will view these consultancy recommendations with grave concern." ENDS


Sinn Féin Human Rights and Equality Spokesperson, Caitríona Ruane MLA has said that Sinn Fein will call for urgent action to address the huge under representation of Catholics with the core of the NIO and demand that the NIO along with a number of other organisations, including th4e BBC, is designated under Section 75 of the Equality legislation.

NIO Minister has revealed that only 155 out of 657 core departmental staff, dealing with issues including equality, criminal justice and security and political development, based in the north is Catholic. This represents just under 24% of personnel.

Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Féin has consistently argued that the NIO, along with a number of other agencies and bodies, should be designated under section 75 of the equality provisions. These latest figures show that it a cold house for
Catholics. It is also unacceptable that the NIO refuses to monitor in detail the deployment of Catholics throughout the department and demonstrates the urgent need for the NIO to be designated.

"We will again be raising the issue of inequality across the civil service and the urgent need for effective monitoring and radical action to tackle the structural inequality and discriminatory practices, such as the ban on Irish nationals from key civil service posts, in the political negotiations.

"The NIO has huge power in the state and wields particular influence in the peace process. It is very worrying that the level of Catholic under representation is lower in the NIO than in any other government department." ENDS


The Sinn Féin Fisheries Spokesperson, Martin Ferris TD, has voiced his support for today’s protests by fishermen at ports around the country. The protest is being held in opposition to the proposed new fisheries legislation currently being debated in the Dáil. Fishermen are objecting to what they claim are measures designed to criminalise them.  

Deputy Ferris said: “The current Bill is unacceptable to almost everyone involved in the Irish fishing industry.  In seeking to impose massive penalties and bring large areas of activity under the criminal courts, it is completely at odds with the practise in other EU states. I have already spoken against the Bill and have tabled a large number of amendments which seek to overturn the punitive measures which it contains. I will also continue to point out that the Common Fisheries Policy, which has been a disaster for the Irish fishing industry must be completely overhauled.” ENDS


Speaking after a debate with Junior Justice Minister Frank Fahey Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh accused the Minister of not understanding the Good Friday Agreement and of being unsuitable for his position.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “By admitting that he does not accept that there is a shortfall between the equality protections in this State and those in the Six Counties and by arguing that the Government is not bound by equivalence provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, Junior Minister Frank Fahey has shown a complete lack of understanding of the Agreement and hence his unsuitability for his position. Frank Fahey needs to sit down, read the Good Friday Agreement and listen to the Equality Authority. 

Speaking during the debate in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh accused the Government of not living up to its Good Friday Agreement commitments by failing to deliver on obligations under Strand 3 to ensure in this State “at least an equivalent level of protection of human rights” with that pertaining to the six counties and he called on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to bring forward amendments to equality legislation to bring human rights and equality protections in line with those in the North.

He said, “In 1998, when the Irish people cast their vote in favour of the Good Friday Agreement they correctly believed and expected that the rights protections won by Republicans under the Agreement would benefit them also.  The Minister has been whittling away equality protections and refusing to entertain any notion of a rights-based society - he is trampling on the expressed will of the people of this island.

"The joint report of the Equality Authority and Commission re-affirms Sinn Fein’s conclusion and proves that the government has failed to deliver on its obligations under Strand 3 of the Good Friday Agreement.  And that the government have failed thus far to ensure in this state ‘at least an equivalent level of protection of human rights’ with that pertaining to the six counties.  And consequently is also in breach of its own Programme for Government statement that full implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement is the government’s ‘top priority’.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister “when will he deliver these long overdue acts of completion and when will he address the ‘equivalence failings’ identified by Sinn Fein and now also identified by the Equality Authority and Commission including:

·            limitations in this state’s European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003;

·            limitations in the scope of this state’s equality legislation with regard to disability, public function, political opinion, and enforcement and remedies;

·            limitations in the treatment of transexual people and gay and lesbian people in this state; and

·          the absence of positive duties to promote equality.” ENDS


Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh today moved a Bill in the Dáil calling for the legislation that brought the Independent Monitoring Commission in to being to be repealed.  Deputy Ó Snodaigh described yesterday’s report from the IMC as "farcical" and said it was "nothing more than a permit for prevarication” that the two Governments "foolishly" handed to the rejectionist unionists. He pointed out that more than €1.5 million per year had been spent by the Irish Government on the IMC since its establishment in 2003.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "It is quiet clear to even the most narrow-minded of observers of the peace process that the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission is nothing of the sort.  Its farcical report yesterday, which once again relies on anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo from extremely suspect sources, is nothing more than a permit for prevarication, which the two governments foolishly handed rejectionist unionists and their fellow-travellers.

"Sinn Féin pointed out at the time that the legislation was going through Leinster House to give legal effect to this body that it would be used and abused by those who are hell-bent on frustrating the development of the peace process.  This latest report has, as was the case with all the previous reports of this discredited body, unfortunately proved us right.

"Sinn Féin has put before the Dáil today a Bill which would repeal the legislation that brought the body in to being and which provided it with its substantial funding from the Irish taxpayer.  I am calling on the Government to adopt this Bill and put it to the House so that the collection of spooks and anti-republican cranks that make up the IMC can be disbanded immediately.  In the interests of the peace process and in the re-establishment of the institutions it is crucial that this happens sooner rather than later." ENDS

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