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


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Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has voiced concerns about the implications of the introduction of GM feed into the food chain of dairy herds for the quality and saleability of local milk.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Sinn Féin are concerned that given recent developments in Europe about GM animal feed being used and the possible long term implications for the industry and consumers reaction, particularly in relation to Milk.

"The structure if the Six County Milk industry means that currently 15% of the Milk in the North goes into bottles while the rest 85% goes for manufacturing. One of the main structural issues with dairy farming in the north is that our population is not large enough to consume the vast amount of milk produced here. If meal companies begin to import the GM maize to input into animal feed we are on a dangerous and slippery slope.

"The reality is that there is a very real risk of contamination of the food chain. Across Ireland and throughout Europe consumers have consistently rejected food that is genetically modified. The result is that there are very few GM labelled products on the market. Indeed many companies make a point of labelling food GM free.

"However, there is a loophole in EU labelling regulations. Milk, eggs, meat and other animal-derived foodstuffs do not need to be labelled if the animals were fed GM foodstuffs. The majority GM maize grown in Europe is used as animal feed, meaning that consumers could unknowingly consume GM derived products, such as milk.

"Through advertising their products as pure and natural, they are misleading their consumers as their products risk being contaminated from the GM crops grown by their dairy farmers.

"But this is not the case across the board. Food manufacturers have ensured that GM animal feed is not used in Switzerland and Sweden. In Austria, the large dairy company, NOEM AG, ensured its entire range of fresh milk products are GM free.

"Despite the debate about the of Monsanto's GM maize (MON 810) still ongoing, the European Commission gave approval for the GM maize to be grown in the EU in 2004. As a result the Austria, Greece, Hungary and Poland all have banned the maize. This is currently the only GM plant permitted to be grown throughout the EU although other GM maize and GE Soya varieties, cultivated outside the EU, are authorised for import as animal feed.

"Sinn Féin believe that the Milk industry, as well as those producing eggs and other livestock for the market, needs to take a stand on this issue and take steps to ensure that it is not using GM meal feed. There is a valuable competitive edge to be gained in producing foods for market that are genuinely GM free. We will also be working to ensure that the legal loophole that allows for the introduction of GM products into our food chain is closed." ENDS

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP has today warned the Minister for Health to seriously address the rapidly changing situation in regards to the Bird Flu virus, which has spread from South East Asia into Russia. Ms McDonald said an immediate meeting must be arranged between the Departments of Health in the South and North to discuss 'an all-Ireland approach to any future pandemic'.

Ms McDonald made her comments as European experts are set to discuss a response to the disease in Brussels today. Ms McDonald also said that any further delays for the arrangement of a meeting between the Northern and Southern Health Departments would be 'unacceptable' after it emerged Ms Harney's department postponed two meetings on the issue in 2004 and 2005.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"I want to reiterate my previous comments that we should not be alarmist on this matter. However, developments are moving quickly with the news that the Dutch are set to keep their 5.5 million free range poultry indoors as a precautionary measure against the spread of avian bird flu.

"I am calling upon Minister Harney to seek an immediate meeting with her counterparts in the north to discuss a joined up approach to tackling any potential outbreak in Ireland. It is not acceptable that the Minister's Department has postponed two meetings on this matter. The Department asked for the postponement until the new health structures had bedded in. To my knowledge, there is now no possible excuse for the delay of this meeting.

"It would be a completely common sense and realistic approach for the Department of Health in the North to liaise and co-operate with the Department of Health and Children in the 26 Counties in order to ensure that an effective all-Ireland strategy is developed and put in place to properly deal with this potential threat to health and public safety." ENDS

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Responding to the latest outburst of Progressive Democrat president Michael McDowell in relation to the Colombia 3 Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said his comments stood in stark contrast to his silence in relation to the over 100 attacks in two months on nationalists by loyalists in six counties.

Cllr. Doolan said, "The ministers latest outburst stands in stark contrast to his silence to the over 100 pipe-bomb, petrol-bomb, paint-bomb, gun and knife attacks carried out by loyalists against the nationalist community in the Six Counties over the last two and a half months. Rather than using the return of the Colombia 3 to engage in his usual anti-republican rhetoric the Minister should address this very real crisis in the peace process.

"Michael McDowell's blatant disregard for the evidence produced at the trial in Colombia, which found the men innocent of the charges levelled against them certainly puts a question mark over his suitability to be Minister for Justice. Is he seriously suggesting that he accepts the extremely dubious methods used to secure convictions against these men on appeal? Does he believe in secret tribunals overturning the verdict of an open court, which heard all the evidence? Is this the system of so-called justice the Minister for Justice and former Attorney General would like to see in Ireland? If it is I suspect most sensible people in this State would be not just concerned about civil and human rights in Colombia but the implication of the Ministers comments for civil and human rights in this country.

"Minister McDowell‚s claim that Gerry Adams and the Sinn Féin leadership had anything to do with the men‚s trip to Colombia is just pathetic political opportunism which I wouldn't even dignify with a response.

"Sinn Féin is glad that the men are home and we would like them to be able to get on with their lives with their families." ENDS

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP today visited communities in North Antrim who have been victims of a recent campaign of violence and intimidation from the unionist paramilitaries. Ms McDonald was joined by local Assembly member Philip McGuigan and party councillors for a series of meetings in Ahoghill, Ballymena and Rasharkin. Ms McDonald will this evening visit the Short Strand area of East Belfast and meet with local residents and Sinn Féin representative for the area Deborah Devenney.

Speaking from Ballymena this afternoon Ms McDonald said: "It is important for politicians in the 26 counties to show support and solidarity with nationalists in areas like North Antrim who are currently in the eye of a violent campaign of intimidation and terror being waged by unionist paramilitaries. It is very clear from my meetings today that there is an orchestrated effort being made to drive Catholics and nationalists out of certain areas in North Antrim. This is completely unacceptable.

"It is also clear that local nationalists feel that a climate has been created by the actions of local unionist politicians which has directly fed into the environment in which this campaign has flourished. For decades Catholics and nationalists in areas like North Antrim have been discriminated against at every level. It is now clear that nationalists simply won't stand for this any longer and the DUP in particular in this area need to wake up to that reality.

"The DUP sit on the various Forums and Commissions with the leaderships of the UDA and UVF. From the Third Force to Ulster Resistance the DUP have been directly linked to violent unionism. No nationalist believes that the DUP do not have influence with unionist paramilitaries and no nationalist believes that they cannot put pressure on to have this campaign ended if that is what they actually want.

"It would also serve those politicians in the 26 counties well if they travelled here to North Antrim or to the Short Strand to see exactly where the threat to the peace process comes from. It does not come from the Colombia Three returning home, or any republican activity as they would have people believe. It comes from the unionist paramilitaries and the failure of the unionist parties to tackle this issue head on." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy and local MLA Davy Hyland recently met with British government representatives to discuss ongoing work to demilitarise South Armagh.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Hyland said:

"Sinn Féin gave a broad welcome to British government proposals to demilitarise South Armagh and other areas in the six counties. Conor Murphy and myself recently met with British government representatives to discuss this plan and raise the concerns of local people concerning timeframe and restoration of farmlands currently occupied by the Crown Forces.

"We also took this opportunity to raise once again with the British government the widespread local anger at the continuing deployment of the British parachute regiment in the South Armagh area and the need to speedily remove this regiment from South Armagh and return them to their base in England.

"Sinn Féin will continue to monitor closely the ongoing work and any negative impact it has on local people. However we are keen to see the demilitarisation process be completed and completed quickly." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor for Ardoyne, Margaret McClenaghan has called for an immediate end to interface attacks. The call follows a paint bomb attack on several nationalist homes on Ardoyne Road at 11 am this morning along with attacks on both catholic and protestant homes last night.

Speaking today Cllr McClenaghan said: "The interface attacks that have been ongoing in North Belfast, the latest being this mornings attack on nationalist homes on the Ardoyne Road, need to come to an immediate end.

"All these attacks are based purely on sectarianism. They are wrong and have no justification whatsoever whatever side of the community they emanate from.

"The residents from the homes that were attacked this morning had actually stood at the front of their homes last night to ensure that young people could not pass by and cause trouble at the interface.

"This is a positive move in order to attempt to restore calm to the interface areas, however it is not enough on its own. We need to see a long term interface strategy developed and implemented by all relevant parties in order to resolve the long running issues of interface tensions." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor for Dunmurry Cross Angela Nelson has today said that an attack on a Catholic owned pub in Dunmurry Village is part of a concerted sectarian campaign waged by Unionist paramilitaries across the Six Counties.

Ms Nelson made her comments after the Motte and Bailey pub was attacked with paint-bombs last night.

Speaking today Ms Nelson said: "Yesterday evenings attack is the latest in a long line of attacks against this specific public house, and part of a wider campaign of sectarian harassment against vulnerable nationalist communities right across the north.

"On the 11th August, two young men leaving the pub were attacked as Apprentice Boys paraded through Dunmurry Village. Since then the premises have been attacked on a number of occasions and cars have been set alight. Nationalists in Dunmurry are rightly querying whether or not CCTV footage in the area has captured these attacks, and if the PSNI are prepared to act on this information. If the PSNI are able to arrest people in connection with unrest in the Ardoyne, then why can't the same apply here in Dunmurry?

"For many years now, the borough of Lisburn has been a cold house for nationalists, both inside and outside of the Council Chamber. Unionist politicians have a responsibility to challenge those loyalist paramilitaries who are intent on stirring up sectarian hatred. Indeed, they could start by facing up to those they sit with on various parading and community forums. Unfortunately, most nationalists believe that unionist politicians are not up to the challenge." ENDS

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Sinn Féin councillor Larry O'Toole has described the controversy over the location of No 16 Moore St as a "red herring and a distraction from the central issue, which is the preservation of this important historical site".

Cllr O'Toole, who is contesting the next general election in Dublin North East, said: "The Thoms Directory of 1917 lists Number 16 Moore St as belonging to the Plunkett family, who were poulters, or chicken sellers, in the area. Examination of the Thoms Directories for 1937 and 1958 confirms the ownership of the site remained in the hands of the Plunkett family, and the building still has a sign saying 'Plunketts' on the front.

"It is also worth recalling that Elizabeth O‚Farrell, the courageous young woman who was a nurse with the volunteers and carried Pearse‚s surrender order around the garrisons in Dublin, confirmed that number 16, the present location, was the last headquarters of the Provisional Government of 1916.

"The furore around the street numbers is a red herring and a distraction from the central issue, which is the preservation of this important historical site, and its conversion into a museum in line with Sinn Féin‚s approved amendments to the Dublin City Draft Development Plan." ENDS

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North Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Kathy Stanton has accused the SDLP MLA Alban Maginness of being completely out of touch with interface communities. Ms Stanton's remarks came after Alban Maginness blamed anti-social activities and boredom for recent violence.

Ms Stanton said:

"Alban Maginness' claims that recent violence on interface areas and elsewhere is the result of boredom amongst children is contemptible. It is directly comparable to the disgraceful comments made by PSNI Chief Paul Leighton when he tried to gloss over sectarian attacks in Ahoghill.

"Mr Maginness of course completely ignores the fact that unionist paramilitaries are involved in much of this violence including gun and bomb attacks on Catholic homes in the Short Strand and an attack last night with an explosive device at Skegoneil. These attacks are not taking place by bored kids they are planned and orchestrated and designed to provoke the sort of low level stone throwing and sectarianism which we have witnessed in recent nights.

"Thankfully over recent nights community and political representatives on the ground have with some success sought to limit the potential for further trouble across Belfast. Such initiatives are based within the community and operated by people on all sides with a realistic approach that this conflict is driven by sectarianism , not boredom and acknowledging the reality that much of the serious violence is coming from unionist paramilitaries trying to divert the focus away from their ongoing feuding." ENDS

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South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has said that the sub group of the District Policing Partnership (DPP) in the area had descended into a farce. Mr Maskey's comments come after last nights meeting in Sandy Row has to be cancelled after only two members of the body bothered turning up.

Mr Maskey said:

"The SDLP and others have attempted to portray the impression that the new policing arrangements are working well and enjoying widespread community support. The reality on the ground has however contradicted this time and again.

"Last night only two members of the DPP bothered turning up for the meeting in Sandy Row and the meeting was cancelled. The reality is that the local DPP had descended into a farce. Reports of such meetings across the six counties indicate that they are normally only attended by a mixture of PSNI members and local political appointments. Contributions from the community and in particular communities who are victims of bad policing is virtually non existent.

"The Policing Board and the DPPs will only effectively work when they are given the power to do so and convince, through robust action and a willingness and ability to hold the PSNI to account, a community growing increasingly sceptical of the current policing arrangements and the response of the PSNI to ongoing problems such as unionist paramilitary activity." ENDS

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Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas Pringle has expressed his anger at the planned closure of the Hospira Plant in Donegal Town and the devastation caused to hundreds of families in the South Donegal Area.

Councillor Pringle said, "I note the Manager has thanked the workers for their tremendous loyalty and hard work and says the closure is due to the high costs in Ireland and Œworld economics'. However, this is very little comfort to the people of Donegal. How many years will Hospira stay in Costa Rica before moving on and leaving a similar trail of destruction?

"The closure is an indictment of successive Governments attitude to Donegal. Sinn Fein has constantly raised the lack of industrial development in the West and South of the County and called for all sectors to work together in drawing up and implementing an Action Plan.. Hospira/Abbots was the last IDA backed development in this area ˆ and that was 25 years ago. Nothing since. We have Government Ministers in this county who should be hanging their heads in shame ˆ the highest unemployment rate in the country, no investment, no industrial promotion. As far as they are concerned the South and West of Donegal County might as well be in the middle of the Atlantic."

"No doubt," continued Pringle, "this Government will set up a Task Force similar to the previous ones where in a couple of years the results will be the same ˆ zero jobs, zero investment."

Councillor Pringle went on to extend his sympathy to the dedicated workers who made the Abbot/Hospira plant so profitable down through the years and condemned the irresponsibility and callousness of what the Manager terms Œworld economics‚ which condemns them to a bleak future.

"Will we be waiting as long for Government Action on employment as we are on Cancer Services?" he asked.

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Poverty, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton has added her voice to the demand for stronger action to eradicate poverty and endorsed the 'Enough is Enough' anti-poverty campaign led by the community and voluntary sector.

Ms Stanton said:

"It is a disgrace that the urgent need and clear government commitment to produce an anti-poverty strategy has been meet with such a lack of political will and urgency by British direct rule ministers and their civil servants.

"Enough is Enough is an understatement.

"It is unacceptable that 150,000 children in the North live in poverty and half a million people live in poor households.

"The approach being taken by direct rule minister and the current government proposals for an anti-poverty strategy fall well short of what is required as the basis for the way forward.

"An anti-poverty strategy that contains no targets, no commitment to adequate resources, no analysis of the causes of poverty and no action to tackle the gap between the rich and the poor can only fail.

"In Britain the British Labour government has made additional resources available yet here people are being treated like second class citizens. This is the cost of direct rule and the continuation of British rule.

"We need a genuine anti-poverty strategy that tackles low pay, the provision of childcare, educational underachievement the massive health equalities suffered by deprived and marginalised communities. There must be a vision for the eradication of poverty.

"The equality mechanisms and legislation in place may not be perfect but they flowed out of the Good Friday Agreement in order to address a growing gulf between rich and poor in our society. Those same inequalities remain and in some aspects are deepening, particularly West of the Bann as well as in other areas where social and economic disadvantage remains consistently depressing. It is time for political direction and action.

"Last Friday a Sinn Féin delegation led by North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan and West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff met with Direct Rule Minister Jeff Rooker and raised the issue of the Targeting Social Need Strategy (TSN). We impressed upon Mr Rooker the total inadequacy of this strategy. " ENDS

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Derry City Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming has encouraged parents within the city council area to register their newborn children under the city name place of their own choice.

Cllr. Fleming said: "It has come to my attention that not all parents are aware that they can register the birth place of their children under the city name place of their own choosing. After being contacted by a constituent concerning this issue I contacted the relevant Officials and was assured that if parents request Derry or Doire as the registered place of birth it must be adhered to.

"At present a child's birthplace, if born within the council area, will be recorded as Londonderry unless a specific request is made otherwise. If parents so wish their child‚s birthplace can instead be registered as Derry or Doire.

"I would encourage parents to exercise their right to choose the name of their child‚s birthplace and I would also expect that council staff will be properly informed and prepared to facilitate any such requests that may be forthcoming." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has expressed concern at the likely impact of the proposed 25% October price increase by Phoenix Gas.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"The generous licence granted to Phoenix gas was agreed on the basis that it supported the development of a cheap fuel alternative that is particularly important given the high levels of fuel poverty that exist in the North.

"The proposed 25% price increase due to come into effect in October would undoubtedly have a huge impact for those living with fuel poverty. It is vital that Phoenix work with the Gas regulator and DETI to try and lift the threat of this massive price increase.

"The huge increases in the cost of gas and oil in the global market has undoubtedly put pressures on the local cost of fuel but it must be remembered at the same time that some local companies and particularly given its' privileged market position here Phoenix post sizable profits year on year.

"Increased fuel costs mean that the most vulnerable in our society are at increased risk. It is vital that everyone eligible avails of schemes such as the warm home scheme and improves the energy efficiency of their homes to minimise their own costs.

"The global context and the long term probability of price increases in fossil fuel also demand a greater urgency in developing sustainable alternatives and green technologies that will not be at the same mercy of global markets." ENDS

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West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty is calling upon the Minister of Social Development David Hanson to increase the Winter Fuel Payment Allowance for the over 60s to help offset the spiralling cost of home heating bills.

The local MP who has written to the Direct Rule Minister calling for the move said,

"With an almost 100% increase in the cost of home heating oil in the last year alone and with significant increases in the cost of other forms of home heating there is a need for the DSD Minister to urgently review the Winter Fuel Payment for the over 60s and to bring it into line with inflation.

"Fuel poverty affects around 25% of the population in the six counties and it's impact is most acutely felt amongst the elderly. It is estimated that more than 1,000 pensioners die each year because they cannot afford to keep their homes warm.

"Given that the elderly are the most vulnerable section of the community in terms of fuel poverty and given the unprecedented rise in home heating bills in the last year I have called on the Minister to legislate for a substantial increase in the Winter Fuel Payment Allowance." ENDS

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Sinn Féin's Dublin Spokesperson on the Environment & Dublin South East Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan, today slammed recent reports, "that a deal has already been done on the proposed incinerator for Ringsend."

Speaking in Ringsend today, Cllr. Doolan said:

"Recent reports reveal that a €1bn incineration deal will be announced next month. The proposed deal is between Dublin City Council and a Danish firm, Eslam Engineering, to build and operate an incinerator on the Poolbeg Peninsula in Ringsend. These revelations are a disgrace and fly in the face of any accountability or transparency. It must be remembered that the City Development Plan clearly excludes any incinerator for Ringsend. The development plan was voted on and agreed by the Councillors of this City and management need to remember this and act accordingly. Under the deal to be announced Eslam will have a contract to operate the incinerator for 20 years, this shows absolutely no commitment to really tackling the waste crisis this city faces.

"If we are to avoid sending Dublin down the expensive, unpopular route of incineration, imagination and leadership needs to be shown and standards set. In 2007 all landfills here in Dublin will be closed. We need to stop depending on landfill and incineration before the crisis becomes a catastrophe, so action needs to be taken now. Sinn Féin will continue to work for the adoption of a Zero Waste Strategy. This strategy actually removes the dependency on landfills and incinerators through the reduction, reusing and recycling of waste.

"The management of this City had better rethink their own strategy if they believe they can simply rail road an incinerator into Ringsend. Their incinerator is not wanted, needed or indeed workable. Residents can be assured that they will have my ongoing active support in using every avenue open to us in opposing this incinerator."

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan, demanded , "that increasing the rate of recycling should now be the priority for Dublin local authorities and not the imposition of expensive incinerators on our communities." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP today said that incresing attacks on catholics and nationlists was the traditional loyalist response to internal divisions and feuding within the ranks of the unionist paramiltaries.

Mr McGuinness said:

" The increasing number of attacks on nationalists in North Antrim and in North and East Belfast are the result of orchestrated sectarian violence on the part of unionist paramilitaries.

" Invariably the response of loyalism to internal instability and internecine violence is to escalate attacks on nationalists and Catholics. This is what is happening at present. The response to this orchestrated and escalating campaign on the part of unionist leaders has been subdued and indicates a level of tolerance which is in sharp contrast to their vocal and obsessive focus on the IRA.

" Even more disgraceful have been the attempts by the PSNI to downplay this violence by suggesting that it is neither orchestrated nor wholly sectarian in nature. Nowhere is the need for fundamental change more obvious than in the PSNI's attempts to disguise the naked sectarianism which fuels these attacks." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly group Chief Whip, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan has expressed concern that direct rule ministers have failed to deliver on key Programme for Government and Budget commitments despite setting lower standards.

Commenting on the publication of this year's annual report on the implementation Priorities and Budget 2004-06 Mr McGuigan said: "When British direct rule ministers first brought forward their Priorities and Budget for 2004-06 in draft form last year Sinn Féin said that it was a betrayal of the direction, priorities and commitments agreed by local elected representatives.

"Direct rule ministers have not heeded the warning that it would have a devastating long-term impact on vital services particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our society.

"Across a range of areas services have been hit, particularly for our children and young, in our health and education systems and in the priority for tackling poverty. The result has been serious deficits in both Health and Education.

"Senior civil servants themselves recognise that the health service in the Six Counties needs an additional annual investment of between £400m to £500 million to provide the level of services required. Services are not being enhanced or developed they are being run down.

"In failing to secure the necessary finances required to tackle the long term deficit in investment in infrastructure particularly in our roads, rail, water and sewerage and hospital and education systems British Direct rule minister are guilty of almost criminal irresponsibility and neglect.

"In setting their standards so low direct rule ministers have set out to undermine vital services. Despite setting fewer and lower targets direct rule ministers are still failing.

"Targets, particularly to address educational achievement for the most disadvantaged children and young people will only be met with delay. Why? Delays to the Single Equality Bill and to the delivery, by December 2004, of a coordinated Strategic Plan to achieve measurable improvements on equality, disadvantage and community cohesion. Why? This is the true cost of direct rule." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane has said that the annual report from the Civil Service Commissioners raises fresh concerns about the community and gender composition of the upper levels of the North's civil service.

Ms Ruane said: "This report shows that while there has been some progress in addressing the under representation of women and Catholics at senior civil service levels that there is still a major imbalance.

"At Director level (grade 5), while nine of the 12 appointments in the last year were women and this is to be welcomed but if we look at the next grades down, there were only 2 women appointees out of 13. Similarly in terms of Catholic representation at Director level, five of the 12 appointments for 2004-05 were Catholic yet at senior grades only 2 of the 13 were Catholic.

"Over the past three years there have been 68 appointments at senior grades - only 23 of these have been women and 24 Catholic (33.8% and 35.3% respectively).

"Fundamentally while there has been marginal changes from previous statistics the senior levels of the civil service are still a cold house for Catholics and women. There are still considerable improvements for the civil service to embrace in order to achieve a representative workforce." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has today criticised the decision not to close PSNI bases in the villages of Newtonbutler and Irvinestown.

Speaking today Ms Gildernew said:

"Today's decision is not only about pandering to rejectionist unionists, but it makes no sense whatsoever. Once again the PSNI have failed to adapt to the changing political realities across the Six Counties.

"The Policing Board requested that the PSNI carry out further consultation on a proposal to close eight stations in the County. This U-turn in regards to Newtonbutler and Irvinestown will come as little surprise to nationalists who will no doubt regard this as a political decision to appease rejectionist unionists.

"The PSNI claim that they conducted an extensive consultation exercise with local communities in Newtonbutler and Irvinestown will not wash with nationalists. The majority of nationalists do not want these spy bases in their communities.

"The SDLP must also bear some responsibility in regards to this. Since joining the Policing Board they have pledged to represent the nationalist people - instead in the past number of weeks alone they have been party to the appeasement of rejectionist unionism with this move and the recent decision to arm the PSNI with a new batch of plastic bullets." ENDS

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