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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 councillors on Dublin City and South Dublin Councils will today c all for cross-party support for emergency motions opposing the proposed sale of Aer Lingus. The motions will be put to both local authorities.

Speaking ahead of tonight's meeting Dublin City councillor Larry O'Toole, Sinn Féin representative for Dublin North-East, said: "These motions are coming on the back of meetings Sinn Féin has had with Aer Lingus workers. Last Friday I accompanied Mary Lou McDonald MEP, Seán Crowe TD and Cllr Daithí Doolan to a meeting with SIPTU representatives where we outlined our campaign of opposition to the ideological vandalism that is the proposed sale of our national airline.

"We are calling on all councillors to put party differences aside and unite in defence of an airline that has made an enormous contribution to the State, and to the city and county of Dublin. We need a national airline that plays a dynamic role in an all-Ireland economy and today's motion gives all councillors the opportunity to stand with the workers and users of Aer Lingus."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Policing and Justice Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has welcomed the launch of the new Public Prosecution Service but said that it must be genuinely independent and free from political interference.

Mr Kelly said:

"In negotiations Sinn Féin consistently argued for the creation of an Independent Public Prosecution Service. This is the culmination of that hard work. However, as with all policing and justice changes that have been achieved, there continues to be internal resistance to the process of change.

"There also remains a serious crisis of confidence particularly in the handling of political cases.

"The process of delivering change is not complete and Sinn Fein will closely monitor developments to ensure that we do have a new beginning to the way that prosecutions are handled.

"Essential to completing the development of a genuinely Independent Public Prosecution Service is the need to ensure that it is both free from political interference and free from political and cultural bias. Central to this is the need to for a change of personnel at the upper echelons of the old prosecution service. There is no point attempting a break with the failed DPP agenda of the past if the same people continue in position." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Cllr Brian Mc Mahon, the Chair of Strabane District Council says that the people of Strabane want to see justice done for the family of Ciaran Connolly who was tragically killed by the vehicle gate of Strabane PSNI station over two years ago.

Speaking following the release of the Police Ombudsman's Report into his death the local Council Chair said,

"The people of Strabane want to see full justice for the Connolly family to ensure that their grieving is not compounded in any way.

"While the Police Ombudsman‚s Report into the tragic death of Ciaran provides some answers into what happened at the gate of Strabane PSNI station on that night there is a general scepticism among townspeople as to the conclusions of the Report.

"In particular, people are shocked at the revelation that this terrible tragedy could have been prevented if reported faults with the safety mechanisms of the gate had of been rectified.

"People are of the view that if this gross negligence had of happened in any other walk that someone would have been held accountable. For example, someone somewhere must have given the order for the gate‚s safety mechanisms to be deactivated, as no one would have been able to carry out such work at such a heavily fortified base without receiving prior authorization.

"However, the most important thing is that the Connolly family receive all the answers that they need so that they can begin to come to terms with the tragic loss of Ciaran. ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Reilly said that the failure of Meath County Manager to declare a conflict of interest in the appointment of a former member of Meath County Council as tourist office administrator and assistant to the manager of the new arts threatre was a serious error of judgement. Councillor Reilly will be putting a motion to Meath County Council calling for public representatives to be appointed to the Board of Meath Arts Centre Company Ltd and for procedures to be put in place to ensure that such a situation will not arise in the future.

Councillor Reilly said:

"Over the last number of weeks I have raised a number of very serious questions with the County Manager and at Navan Town Council regarding the appointment of a former member of Meath County Council as tourist office administrator in the new Meath Arts Centre. I put a series of questions to the County Manager and also met with him in person in recent weeks.

"It is my firm belief, having carefully examined the matter, that this appointment raises a number of serious concerns with regard to decisions taken by the County Manager:

He set up the Meath Arts Centre Company but no public representatives were appointed to its Board. The appointment of public representatives to such bodies is normal practice.

He unilaterally accepted the recommendation that former councillor Alison Boyle be appointed, as tourist office administrator by Meath Arts Centre Company instead of bringing the matter to the Board as is normal practice.

At no time did the County Manager state that he had a conflict of interest in this matter due to his personal relationship with the individual who was appointed to the position.

The County Manager should not have been involved in this appointment when there was a blatant conflict of interest. The appointment should have been dealt with by the Board of the Meath Arts Centre Company and not by one individual member. There should have been public scrutiny of the process through the involvement of public representatives.

The people of Navan and Meath need to have complete confidence in Meath County Council and in all of the workings of the Council. There is a need for accountability and transparency in how it operates. And there is a need for procedures to be put in place to ensure that this situation can never happen again. It is also important that councillors, as public representatives, are alert to these issues and not let a blind eye culture develop.

The Arts Theatre will be an important addition to the cultural life of Meath and it is important that it gets the best possible start. I will continue to scrutinize the workings of the Council and ensure that it works in the best interests of all of the people of Meath."ENDS

Councillor Reilly will be placing a motion on the clar of the July meeting of Meath County Council asking that a number of public representatives be immediately appointed to the Board of Meath Arts Centre Company Ltd. He will also be asking for procedures to be put in place to deal with any situation where the County Manager or any other senior council official has a conflict of interest.

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA speaking after a party delegation meet with the Energy Regulator Douglas McIldoon has said that the sell-off of Phoenix Gas to Private Equity company Terra Firma should be blocked.

The Sinn Féin General Secretary said:

"Phoenix was awarded a unique position in relation to the favourable terms of its licensing agreement, substantial subsidy and a guaranteed higher rate of return of 8.5% until 2016. This received cross party support in recognition of the need to develop the gas market to tackle high-energy costs and high levels of fuel poverty. Sinn Féin would be deeply concerned that this privileged position will now be exploited to generate super profits at the expense of the consumer for EHS who acquired Phoenix for a sum of around £240million. It is now reported that the offer from Terra Firma to EHS is in the region of £450 million - a suggested profit of £210million over an eighteen month period.

"Sinn Féin would also be concerned that as a private equity company such as Terra Firma ˆ rather than developing the gas market - intends to generate greater profits for itself in a sell-on deal.

"This bid is not good for consumers. It is not good for the long-term stability of the gas market. It would not be good for the development of the single all-Ireland gas market. It is our view that the proposed sale should be blocked.

"Any attempt by direct rule minister Angela Smith to proceed with this sale would not be in the interests of people here and underscores the need to have the local institutions re-established as soon as possible. I would call on Angela Smith to block this deal pending all-Party discussion on a comprehensive Energy policy that will address the circumstances specific to here." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson and Assembly Member for Foyle Raymond McCartney, has hit out against the introduction of running the new Labour Government transport tax proposals in any shape or form in the North. This week has seen the British Transport Minister, Alistair Darling and his policy advisors give serious consideration to running pilot schemes to examine the potential for introducing what is a congestion charge.

"I am astounded by the recent proposals aired by British Transport Secretary this week vis-à-vis the introduction of a congestion charge. What we need is to see an end to stealth taxation. There is nothing in DRD policy planning to indicate the full implementation of a modern public transport strategy. Instead what we are likely to see is an increase in car ownership, continued congestion, longer journey times, an upward trend in road accident statistics all at a detrimental cost to our environment and the quality of life of transport users. From my own perspective, the complete dependence and over reliance on car usage is down to a lack of a public transport network, which is not financed to build the type of transport infrastructure fit for purpose. There are many issues to be addressed and the irony of the congestion tax proposition has surfaced during ride your bike to work week.

There are already plans to run pilot schemes, and the North could be one such area whereby individual car owners will see microchip transponders fitted to their vehicles and electronic or satellite tracking systems will monitor miles accumulated. A levy of some £1.30 per mile could be applied for vehicles using urban road networks, and 30p per mile exercised in rural areas.

"The idea of this tax raises issues around civil liberties as much as it does around the whole concept of a Government which is committed to privatisation of key public services. I am further saddened by these plans when set against the revelations of DRD paying almost £500,000 in consultants fees to explore the potential for the water charge. There is only one way that this type of unaccountable and unacceptable governance can be reversed - for Unionism to begin immediate discussions with Sinn Fein, along with others to ensure a return to the Executive and template of the Agreement. The socio-economic issues which impact enormously on everyone's lives requires and demands locally elected and responsible Ministers to fully redress the detrimental impact of Direct Rule." ENDS

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Sinn Féin's Dublin Environment Spokesperson & Representative for Dublin South East, Councillor Daithí Doolan, speaking before the monthly City Council meeting, "urged the City Council to adopt a Zero Waste strategy at tonight's meeting."

Speaking this morning in City Hall, Dublin, Cllr. Doolan said:

"Tonight's special debate on waste management will give the City Council a unique opportunity to endorse a Zero Waste strategy and bin the option of incineration for Dublin. Nobody doubts that we face a waste crisis in this city but to simply impose land fills and incinerators is not the solution. We need to look beyond simply burning and burying our waste and now is the time to do exactly that. Despite bullying from the Minister this council must stand up be counted, we run the City not faceless bureaucrat's or civil servants. Incineration is bad for Dublin and I hope tonight that message is heard loud and clear.

"Across Europe, in the US and Canada incinerators are being shut down as the argument for incineration is being lost. Similarly here in Ireland we need to tackle the waste crisis at source, we need to reduce the waste at production, reuse where appropriate and invest in our recycling industry. If the proposed incinerator goes ahead in Dublin then incineration will get locked into the waste management cycle and becomes virtually impossible to remove. In the current Waste Strategy, adopted in 1998, incinerators become the cornerstone and their appetite needs to be satisfied by increasing our production and consumption of waste. This can not be allowed to happen, a radical and relevant strategy needs to be implemented based on community consultation and democratic accountability. Here in Dublin we have the opportunity to make a real difference to the Waste Strategy for the Dublin region by adopting a Zero Waste strategy."

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan, urged, "all those Councilor's who want seriously tackle the waste crisis to come out and support the Zero Waste option tonight."

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Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has described as "adding insult to injury" the decision of the Garda Commissioner to transfer five of the Gardai named in the Morris Report to duties in Dublin.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The decision of the Garda Commissioner to transfer five of the Gardaí named in the Morris Report to duties in Dublin is a scandal and is adding insult to injury. All those Gardaí named in the Morris Report should be suspended from duty immediately and not be allowed to resign on full pension or merely transferred into different positions.

"If this is the Commissioners idea of punishment then it just adds to the serious concerns many members of the public have about his suitability for the role.

"How can the general public have any confidence in a police service where there is no accountability and where a culture of closing ranks goes all the way to the top? This case highlights the need for total Garda reform and it needs to go far beyond that currently recommended by the Justice Minister." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, party General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin has welcomed the signing of a joint Memorandum between the two Transmission System Operators on the island - ESB National Grid in the 26 counties and the System Operator in the 6 Counties, agreeing to establish a single all-Ireland energy transmission operator.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"This is a very positive next step in the creation of a single all-Ireland energy market.

"The creation of a single all-Ireland energy market is gathering momentum. It has the potential to deliver real gains for small and medium enterprises and industry as well as being an important element in the battle to eradicate fuel poverty.

"The key targets need to prioritise reducing energy costs and the related issues of interconnection and access. These are vital if we are to achieve an energy market that is secure, diverse, efficient and environmentally sustainable and that can deliver real gains by significantly reducing cost.

"The establishment a single transmission operator is central to the development of an all-island electricity market capable of delivering choice and competitive prices to consumers.

"There is a need for a much more proactive approach to the development of an all-island energy strategy to ensure that there are no problems in meeting the 2007 July 1st deadline for start of the single electricity market." ENDS

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Sinn Féin's Equality, Human Rights and Women‚s spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane has said that in order to restore maximum public confidence to the North's Human Rights Commission that "any appointments made by the British government must ensure that the Commission is fully representative, is independent of British government interference and will be provided with the range of powers required to make it effective in fulfilling its remit."

Speaking after attending a major conference on role of Human Rights Commissions at Queens University today, Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Féin has set out these parameters to the British government on a continuous basis and we share growing concerns being expressed by the equality and human rights constituencies around the protracted process underway since this time last year to produce new appointees to the Commission.

"What is required is the appointment of a new Chief Commissioner and Commissioners in whom people can have confidence in to advance, promote and protect human rights as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MP Conor Murphy is to lead a party delegation to meet with the Chief Executive of the Southern Education Library Board Helen McClenaghan today, Friday 10th June, at the SELB Headquarters in Armagh at 2pm. The delegation will include South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane and Newry and Mourne councillor Breandan Lewis. Speaking ahead of the meeting Mr Murphy said:

"The funding crisis facing our Education Library Boards threatens the education of our children. The meeting today is to look at the impact of these cuts on schools and services throughout the SELB area.

"Across the political spectrum and throughout the educational system people are justifiably angry at the situation and Sinn Féin have demanded action. We will be meeting Angela Smith in the coming days to look at a number of ways to overcome this problem.

"I believe that the Boards have been put in an impossible position, particularly by the high handed approach of the former direct rule Education Minster Barry Gardiner.

"If the new Education Minister Angela Smith is serious about addressing educational provision and serious about dealing with the crisis within the Education system then she look at new ideas. Sinn Féin have consistently called for a challenge to the block grant and the Barnett formula to try and ensure that there is more money available in the overall budget. We have also repeatedly called for and reached some agreement in the negotiations with the British government before Christmas, on a genuine Peace Dividend to support investment in tackling the infrastructure deficit that would free up additional resources for priorities such as Health and Education.

"The crisis facing our education system is part of the cost of direct rule and I believe that locally accountable ministers and local institutions would make better decisions that work in the interest of local people and not the paymasters in the British Treasury.

"One such possible solution may be to look at taking responsibility, centrally, for paying education and Teaching staff. The Government entered into wage arrangements with the Trade Unions and they should therefore take responsibility for all such payments and do so centrally. It would then be possible for Education and Library Boards to make more realistic bids for educational provision and in conjunction with Government agree on what it actually costs to provide for educational services that includes, infrastructure, special needs, maintenance, IT, books etc. This would be the honest way forward for Government." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Education is calling upon the new Education Minister Angela Smith to take responsibility for paying the Salaries and wages of Education Staff centrally if she is serious about addressing Educational Provision. Commenting upon his call Michael Ferguson said,

"If the Minister is actually serious about dealing with the crisis within the Education system then should take responsibility centrally for paying education and Teaching staff. The Government entered into wage arrangements with the Trade Unions and they should therefore take responsibility for all such payments and do so centrally.

"It would then be possible for Education and Library Boards to make more realistic bids for educational provision and in conjunction with Government agree on what it actually costs to provide for educational services that includes, infrastructure, special needs, maintenance, IT, books etc. This would be the honest way forward for Government." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Michael Ferguson has called on the British Attorney General to intervene and make a presentation to the DPP not to pursue Kieran Milnes with a new trial on the grounds that it would not be in the Public Interest to do so.

Michael Ferguson accompanied brought the Milnes Family to meet with the British Attorney General in London last year seeking his intervention. Kieran had been imprisoned for defending his girlfriend's car outside his home in Poleglass.

The Appeal Court upheld Mr Milnes Appeal against conviction on the grounds that the conviction was not safe and so ordered a retrial.

Commenting upon the development Michael Ferguson said,

"Kieran Milnes should never have been imprisoned and it is now imperative that Mr Goldsmith the British Attorney General intervene and advise the DPP not to pursue the case any further because it would not be in the public interest to do so. Kieran has already lost his home and his job and he and his family now need to be allowed to rebuild their lives." ENDS

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West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty has called on the British government to deliver a similar economic aid package for Strabane District as it did to alleviate the fallout from the collapse of MG Rover at Longbridge, in the West Midlands in England in April.

The local MP said,

"The British government were in a position to be able to bring forward a holistic package of measures amounting to £150 million of aid in an effort to redress the fallout from the collapse of MG Rover at Longbridge.

"Yet in Strabane District, the local economy has been completely devastated with the closure of Herdsman's and the continued massive job losses from Adria, the mainstay of the local economy. In the last year alone 1000 jobs have been lost and the social impact has been dire. The response from government to this crisis has been non-existant.

"The scale of the job losses in this area is a lot worse, in proportionate terms, than the impact of the closure of Longbridge to the West Midlands.

"Immediately after the May elections, I wrote to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair calling for a similar intervention for Strabane District given the precedent established by Longbridge. I also requested to meet with him and/or his Secretary of State Peter Hain to discuss the situation in Strabane. I am still awaiting a response.

"I have now resent my request to Tony Blair and have also written directly to Peter Hain requesting an urgent meeting so as to demand that his Administration take the deteriorating economic situation in Strabane District seriously by making speedy and substantial interventions on the same basis as the British government did with the Longbridge issue. " ENDS

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Sinn Féin Regional Development Spokesperson Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has criticised the Department of Regional Development over revelations that senior management DRD have handed out £460,000 in consultant's fees. The news comes amid increasing concern over the Government‚s plans to plough ahead with its privatisation agenda, in transforming the Water Service into a private company or a Government Owned Company (Go- Co).

Mr McCartney said:

"These huge sums of money have been paid out to consultants as they attempt to legitimise the introduction of water. I am amazed at this news given that ratepayers continue to pay for their water services year on end.

"DRD's recent investment in the development of Waste Water Treatment Works facilities must take place as a matter of legislative priority.

"The imposition of this double levy bears no direct correlation on the need to modernise and develop of our infrastructure, which must be guided by the need for the modernisation and transformation of our public utilities."

By highlighting the spin of Government Ministers on the proposed charge, the Sinn Fein Member stated very clearly the legislative guidelines, which must be introduced as per European law:

"The EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, The Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC and the Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste-water treatment bear no impact on forcing communities to pay for delivery, management, maintenance and access to Water provision. While Article 9 of the Water Framework Directive requires Members States to have water pricing policies in place by 2010 - this does not provide evidence to push forward a privatisation agenda. The Domestic Rate has been in place for decades, we do not need to pay twice for water services."

Mr McCartney will lead a party delegation to Stormont to raise this issue along with major infrastructure issues affecting the North in the comming weeks. He commented that Sinn Fein would do all in within its power to reverse the privatisation agenda, which is the preferred route for Direct Rule Government Department policy makers.

"The deficit facing the Six Counties vis-à-vis Water and Sewerage Treatment is a direct result of decades of neglect, under investment and the negligence of successive British Administrations to modernise and upgrade such an essential and key service - our Water service. Government attempts to align or marry the issue of providing clean drinking water and paying for the privilege are criminally misleading. Our Communities have been funding the Water / Sewerage infrastructure through Domestic rate payments and via the taxation system for the previous 40 years." ENDS

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Commenting on the dispute at Beaumont Hospital over management plans to change the current computer system, local Sinn Féin Councillor, Larry O'Toole who has seen the correspondence between the Chief Executive of the Hospital and the IT Manager has said it "raises major questions about the management of our health services."

Speaking today Councillor O'Toole said, "Here we have the Chief Executive of Beaumont Hospital making a decision to change the computer system in the hospital against the strong advice of the IT Project Manager. It is believed that up to €2 million would have to be spent on the system changeover that the IT Project Manager states is unnecessary.

"I find it worrying that the hospital management is taking such a decision when it is advised that there are other IT priorities needed to improve delivery for patients. It is stated in the correspondence that this move would stave off investment where it is truly needed, including electronic support for medicine management.

"This raises major questions about the management of our health services. It comes just a week after the latest candidate for the head of the HSE pulled out. Meanwhile in Beaumont Hospital itself the Accident and Emergency unit is overflowing with patients lying on trolleys and chairs, for some days, and not enough beds in the hospital to take seriously ill patients. ENDS

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Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan has welcomed the unprecedented statement from 11 of the world‚s leading scientific academics on global warning and said that this clear warning demands action.

Mr McGuigan said:

"When 11 of the world's most influential science academics, including the heads of the science academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the US warn world leaders that the threat of global climate change "is clear and increasing" and that they must act immediately to begin addressing its causes and consequences it is time to take it seriously.

"The evidence is there what we now need to see are definite plans and timetables that all countries will sign up to adhere to. We need to put in place strategies to tackle global warning in Ireland, across the EU and globally.

"It is over 7 years since the Kyoto and next year the treaty should finally come into force. Yet we need to begin looking ahead to the successor to Kyoto because it does not come close to solving the problem of climate change. Kyoto is only the first step in a long journey.

"The Kyoto protocol involves modest reductions of less than 5%. The US does not support it, developing nations do not have to make any cuts and it expires in 2012. Many argue that we need to set the bar higher and that only drastic cuts in global emissions of CO2, of two-thirds or more, can stop the concentration of the gas rising ever higher and more severe climate change.

"Long term progress rely on greater pressure on the US, which emits eight times as much CO2 per head of population as China and 18 times as much as India, and on abandoning Kyoto-style piecemeal negotiations on individual national targets in favour of a global plan to cap concentrations of greenhouse gases. More ambitious targets to cap the concentration of green house gases requires a real commitment and major changes to the manufacturing process, to the way that energy is generated, as oil and natural gas supplies dwindle, and to our lifestyle.

"We need strategies at global, European, regional, national and local level to adapt to climate change. Sinn Fein believe that we need to see the establishment of an All Ireland Environmental Protection Agency to drive forward a strong environmental programme of enforcement and to stand up to the powerful vested interests who refuse to live up to obligations on emissions and pollution.

"Climate change cannot be ignored. Sinn Fein is demanding:

  • Meaningful emissions targets for industry
  • Economic inducement for industry to reduce emissions and create incentives for industry innovation to develop clean technologies and to improve energy efficiency.
  • The realisation of Kyoto goals within the agreed time-frame including the introduction of carbon taxes on energy users capable of making the change to lower emitting fuels.

"For any part of this island to attempt to buy its way to compliance with obligations under Kyoto through emissions trading is irresponsible because it will do nothing to actually reduce greenhouse gas levels. Ireland must play its part in tackling global warming." ENDS

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Responding to remarks made by the Unionist peer John Laird in the House of Lords regarding Irish businessman Phil Flynn and others, Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has again accused Laird of cowardly and deceitful behaviour and challenged him to come clean over his links with unionist paramilitaries.

Mr Maskey said:

"This is the second occasion in the last number of weeks that John Laird has hidden behind the farce of British parliamentary privilege to make scurrilous and unfounded allegations against Irish citizens safe in the knowledge that this archaic law prevents individuals from seeking legal redress.

"John Lairds rant in front of his unelected and indeed unelectable colleagues was the action of a political coward. No doubt Laird like the unionists before him who have hidden behind parliamentary privilege in the past will point blank refuse to repeat these allegations in public. The fact that has so far refused to publicly repeat these allegations demonstrates that he knows there that he would face serious legal consequences as a result of making these unfounded claims.

"Many nationalists remember John Laird and his leadership role along with the UDA and other unionist paramilitary gangs in bringing widespread disruption and terror to the six counties during the Ulster Workers Strike in the early 1970s. Laird was also part of the old failed Stormont regime which governed the six counties with a mix of fear, repression and political gerrymandering. I doubt that Laird would come clean over his own links with unionist paramilitaries. Given his background it will come as no surprise that Laird has again chosen a cowardly and deceitful course of action." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has addressed a press confernece today on Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and the Criminal Justice Bill, at the Earl of Kildare Hotel on Kildare Street. Deputy Ó Snodaigh outlined the reasons for Sinn Féin's opposition to ASBOs and the party's alternative proposals for dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Speaking at the press conference he said, "Last year Sinn Féin took a position of opposition to the Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) imposed in the Six Counties by the British Government under the Anti-Social Behaviour (NI) Order 2004, primarily on the basis of human rights concerns, particularly those raised by the children's rights sector.

"But we also oppose ASBOs because the evidence from their operation in Britain for over six years is that they don't work to solve the problem of anti-social behaviour.

"Even the Garda Representative's Association has said that the laws to deal with anti-social behaviour are already in place and that proper resources are all that is needed to enforce these laws. In large part, we agree with them.

"We need effective solutions to anti-social behaviour, not more gimmicks from Michael McDowell. There are more effective alternatives to ASBOs available to us. Let's use them.

"Sinn Féin's basic position on the alternatives to ASBOs is the following:

  • Much of what is represented as "anti-social" behaviour is actually criminal behaviour. Crime should be prosecuted.
  • We need better community policing to deter and to enforce the existing law.
  • We need more resources to enhance community supervision by the Probation and Welfare Service.
  • We need the full implementation of the Children's Act 2001.
  • We need community restorative justice alternatives to imprisonment or fines.
  • Where the behaviour involved is disruptive and offensive but not criminal, we need a community mediation service for conflict resolution such as that operating in Norway.

"Finally, we need to make the Garda Síochána accountable to the communities they serve, by introducing an effective formula such as the Community Policing Partnerships at District Level proposed by Sinn Féin -- which involve much stronger mechanisms for local control than those proposed by the Minister or any of the other political parties." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough, Cllr Francie Molloy MLA will welcome the Portuguese Foreign Minster Antonio Braga tomorrow, Friday 10th June, at 12.15 to the council area at the STEP building in Dungannon.

The Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Mayor speaking ahead of the visit by Mr Braga said:

"Migrant workers play an important role both in the local economy and the life of the community. It is important that the working conditions of migrant workers, many of whom are Portuguese, are protected.

"It is also vital that we do more to challenge racism, that appears to be growing, wherever it emanates from.

"No one in Ireland should be treated as second class citizens because we are all first class citizens. This means that when it comes to the warmth of our welcome or to the rights of workers, or importantly the right to live free from fear, intimidation or harassment that everyone, no matter what their origin, should be treated equally.

"The Portuguese community bring with them a rich diversity." ENDS

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