Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has encouraged people to support the day of action by campaign group, Border Communities Against Brexit, on Saturday, October 8.
Mr O'Dowd said;
"In the aftermath of the recent EU referendum Sinn Féin held a series of public meetings across Ireland and it's clear there is a great deal of concern about the prospect of being dragged out of the EU.
"In border areas in particular there is huge uncertainty over the impact on agriculture, business, trade, travel, tourism and those who cross the border on a daily basis.
"The campaign group Border Areas Against Brexit which brings together representatives of business groups, trade unions, community groups and others, will be holding a day of action on Saturday, October 8 calling for the remain vote to be respected.
"Sinn Féin is supporting the day of action and I am calling on as many people as possible to take part to demand that the democratic will of the people be respected as the best way to address those concerns."
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on senior EU officials to clarify the use of firearms against boats carrying refugees in the Mediterranean.
Ms Anderson said;
"Claims of repeated incidents where boats carrying refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean have been fired on by border security patrols are deeply concerning.
"Unfortunately a number of refugees have already been killed in these incidents.
"These are people who have fled conflict and persecution and face terrible abuses as they try to seek a new life and they should be protected, not subject to further attack.
"The EU organisation, Frontex, and the European Border and Coast Guard are responsible for coordinating patrols and as a result the EU has questions to answer over these incidents.
"I, along with other MEPs have written to senior EU officials including the executive director of the agency for the management of borders, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, and the EU Ombudsman condemning the use of firearms against individuals trying to reach safety in Europe.
"Shooting at boats, even with the aim of preventing trafficking, is extremely dangerous and should not happen.
"We need to know exactly what guidelines and procedures are in place around such incidents and at all times the safety of individuals should be paramount."
Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey has condemned the shooting of a man in west Belfast last night.
The West Belfast MP said;
"This shooting in Bread Street in the Falls Road area was wrong and I condemn it.
"There is no place for these type of actions in our society.
"Those responsible need to end their war against the community and stop these shootings immediately."
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s “clear commitment to advocate for the people of the North in respect of the vote to remain in the European Union. Such advocacy will be very welcome.”
The Taoiseach made his remarks during an exchange in the Dáil with the Sinn Féin leader on Wednesday evening.
Gerry Adams TD said:
“One of the biggest issue facing the island of Ireland in the immediate future is Brexit. There is an imperative for those of us on this island who oppose the people of the North being dragged out of the EU to agree a co-ordinated strategic approach. This week the Taoiseach confirmed to me that he intends convening discussions in November.
"It is also critical that in its discussions with EU leaders that the Irish government expresses its full support for the remain vote in the North and advocates for the right of the people of the North to remain in the EU.
"When I pressed the government on this yesterday evening Enda Kenny said: ‘I accept that the result of the vote on Brexit was that the people of Northern Ireland, by majority, voted to stay in the European Union. I will articulate this point at the discussions that take place at European Council level. I do not suppose I am expected to articulate the same point on behalf of the people of Scotland who also voted to stay in the EU.
"I very much welcome the Taoiseach's clear commitment to advocate for the people of the North in respect of the vote to remain in the European Union. Such advocacy will be very welcome. Having so clearly set out his commitment in this regard, we now need an all-party discussion on Brexit among the leaders and the forum must meet as soon as possible.”
The Sinn Féin leader also urged support for the protest against Brexit planned for Saturday October 8th.
Teachta Adams continued;
“There is no doubt that border communities will be among the worst hit by being forced out of the EU and any hardening of the border.
"The campaign group, Border Communities Against Brexit, which is made up of trade unionists, the business community, community groups, charities, disability campaigners and others is holding a day of action against Brexit at six locations right along the border from Derry to Dundalk on Saturday October 8 at 3pm. I would urge citizens to support this protest.”
Note: To Editors - below is a transcript of An Taoiseach's remarks.
The Taoiseach: As this is the island of Ireland and we have a land border with Northern Ireland that will become an external EU border, I will articulate that people in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU. Given the particular relationship we have with Northern Ireland, it is important that this voice is heard. This is another reason for having an all-island conversation about where all this is headed and what implications Brexit may have along the line.’
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said tonight the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) should cancel plans for a parade in Ardoyne tomorrow night.
The North Belfast MLA was commenting after the Parades Commission tonight ruled on a parade and protest in the area.
Gerry Kelly said:
“It is Sinn Féin’s view we need less evening parades in this area, not more.
“GARC planned this march in opposition to the agreement between the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) and the three local Orange lodges.
“If GARC genuinely had the interests of this community at heart they would cancel the parade immediately.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport, Imelda Munster TD has welcomed the suspension of the Dublin Bus strike, and the improvement in the workers’ pay offer from the original Labour Court offer of 8.25% to an 11.25% increase over three years.
However, the acceptance of these proposals will depend on the outcome of a ballot of the workers next week.
Deputy Munster said:
“I would like to commend the workers for their resilience and their determination to stand up for workers’ rights, having significantly contributed to returning Dublin Bus to profit and foregoing a pay increase for the past eight years, along with enduring other cost cutting measures”.
“The strike was difficult for all concerned, passengers and workers alike, and hopefully we may now have a resolution in sight”.
“In the interim it’s good news for passengers, in particular GAA fans ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland Football Final replay in Croke Park.”
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada hosted a delegation of Irish Sign Language (ISL) users in the European Parliament in Brussels this week to coincide with a major international conference on language rights for sign language users.
Liadh Ní Riada said:
“I am delighted to host a delegation of Irish Sign Language users from Ireland in Brussels. I have long advocated equality, respect and recognition for ISL and for the vibrant language community that use it.
“This conference of sign language users from across Europe and beyond has been a revelation. Its clear that people who use sign languages can encounter specific disabilities in terms of accessing education, healthcare and work.
“I have campaigned for Ireland to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and successive Irish Governments should be ashamed for their failure to do so over the years. Enshrining and enumerating these rights is crucially important if we want to cherish all our people equally.
“However we need to widen the debate. We must look beyond the rights of people with disabilities and look at how language rights can help ISL users overcome the challenges and obstacles they can face in their daily lives.
“ISL users form a vibrant, diverse and distinct language community, with its own culture and trajectory. It includes Deaf and Hearing people, young and old, men and women. This community is entitled to equality, respect and recognition, and I intend to work with ISL users to secure these.
“I have been campaigning at a European level for strengthened rights and protections for uses of indigenous, minority and regional languages including my own first language, Gaeilge, and ISL.
“The ISL community made clear their demands in the European Parliament and in the Oireachtas yesterday, and the onus is on all elected representatives to work together to deliver on these.
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has congratulated management and staff at Cork Airport on the commendation the facility received at the global marketing awards for the aviation industry held recently in Sichuan Province, China. Cork aiport was highly commended on front of over 3,000 industry decision-makers and representatives at the awards ceremony held as part of the World Routes aviation forum in Chengdu this week.
Liadh Ní Riada siad:
“I want to offer my congratulation to the staff and management at Cork Airport on this achievement. As a frequent user of the airport I can testify to the professionalism, vision and dedication of the operation there. Cork Airport remains an integral part of the transport infrastructure for the South of Ireland, serving a large catchment area and connecting Cork and the Region with the world.
“Cork Aiport are rightly focussed on attracting new airlines, building on the routes already operating out of the city, and in continuously developing and improving its offering for the people of the Region and visitors alike.
“Effecive transport communications are vital for regional economic development. Cork is well placed to contribute to balanced economic growth in Ireland and its strategic development is a key building block in progressing this vision.
“This commendation will add to the profile and prestige of Cork Airport in aviation industry circles and contribute to Cork securing and developing new routes and an expanded range of destinations. This is good for Cork, good for the Region and good for Ireland.”
Belfast Seánadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of “flatly ignoring” his questions in the Seanad today on extending Presidential voting rights to Irish citizens in the North.
Speaking after questioning An Taoiseach on the floor of the Seanad, Niall Ó Donnghaile said he was “infuriated” by the Taoiseach’s attitude to Irish citizens in the Six Counties.
He said this is becoming a trend amongst Irish Government ministers “who seem to think that all-Ireland only applies to GAA matches”.
“On two occasions this year already, Minister for the Diaspora Joe McHugh has indicated the Irish Government will move to hold a referendum on voting rights for the Diaspora in early 2017.
“I asked An Taoiseach to confirm that this referendum will include extending the same right to Irish citizens living in the North, as supported by the Constitutional Convention and a broad range of political, civic and community life in the North.
“An Taoiseach simply ignored these direct and very modest questions. He refused to confirm whether or not citizens in the North will have the most basic entitlement of citizens – the right to vote.”
Seánadóir Ó Donnghaile added:
“Irish Government inaction and lack of clarity around the rights of Irish citizens in the North will cause deep concern amongst the broad lobby for voting rights.
“This issue is not going away.
“I expect the Taoiseach to have a comprehensive plan of action when he returns to the Seanad before Christmas as well as clear answers to questions about the rights of Irish citizens living in the North of Ireland.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said as far as Michael Noonan is concerned it is “business as usual” for NAMA.
He was speaking after an exchange with the Minister in the Dáil where Minister Noonan refused to direct NAMA to suspend the next large sales process and to support the Comptroller and Auditor General Report.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Minister Noonan ignored this issue for over two years after I first raised it before finally giving in and accepting the need for a Commission of Investigation. Now it seems as far as he is concerned it is back to business as usual for NAMA.
“Michael Noonan and his government don’t understand the serious damage done to the public’s confidence in NAMA over the Project Eagle affair. It cannot be back to business as usual. The sales processes especially Project Gem must be suspended.
“I gave the Minister ample opportunity today to give his support to the Comptroller and Auditor General Report but he failed to do so. Despite the mounting evidence, the government simply cannot accept that there are wider issues with how NAMA is operating that need to be answered.
“When the accelerated timeframe for NAMA to wind up was announced Sinn Fein said it was a dangerous move. We are still of that view and have been proved correct.
“The public have lost what trust they had in NAMA. Michael Noonan cannot, like NAMA, try to bluster through this scandal. He needs to hit the pause button and reassess what role NAMA is playing in our economy. The way to do that is through a direction to NAMA that he has not hesitated to use on other matters like IBRC."
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin has commented on the EU Commission publication of its reasoned opinion calling on Ireland to improve the collection and treatment of waste water in 38 urban areas across the state. Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Today’s reasoned opinion from the EU Commission is another warning to the Irish government that it continues to be in breach of the urban waste-water treatment directive.The government received a letter of formal notice in September 2013 regarding the state’s perceived failure to fulfil obligations under Articles 3, 4, 5, 10 and 12 of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.
“The 38 areas in question, which include Cork City, Dundalk, Roscommon town and Thurles, are said to be in breach of the directive’s requirement to ensure that appropriate collecting systems and treatments are in place for discharges from treatment plants serving large agglomerations discharging into undesignated waters.
“The consequences of years of neglecting to invest in our water infrastructure are now inescapable.
The government must now prioritise capital investment for the treatment plans that serve the 38 urban areas that are failing to meet the requirements to ensure that waste water is not spilling into our lakes, rivers and coastal areas.”
Commenting today on Early Childhood Ireland’s launch of its report “Doing the Sums: The Real Cost of Providing Childcare”, Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Childcare Kathleen Funchion said the report substantiated all previous calls from the sector for the need for substantial investment into Childcare and into the sector’s infrastructure.
“I want to congratulate Early Childhood Ireland on this excellent report which couldn’t be more timely in the lead up to Budget 2017. The report, which is the first ever comprehensive national review of the cost of running childcare services of varying sizes, both rural and urban, community based and private, concluded that the direction of childcare is towards the ‘free preschool’ years (ECCE) dominating the sector at the expense of early years care for the under 3s. This is incredibly worrisome. The implications of a decrease in non-ECCE services for children is huge, particularly for women. The reality is, a lack of childcare services for the under 3s is an immediate barrier for women returning to the workforce.
“The report also lists a series of issues which if not tackled immediately, could find the childcare sector in an even more critical state. It cited that salaries and wages of are the most significant costs facing services, yet, workers are on minimum or below minimum wages. This is due to substandard investment into the subsidisation of childcare by this Government.
“The figures are laid out for all to see in black and white. Our childcare system is in crisis. Government cannot shy away from the evidence shared today. As indicated, Childcare is high cost for parents and low cost in wages for workers in Ireland. It's completely unsustainable.
“A radical new approach is needed. The first step should be a commitment by Government to invest substatially into Childcare infrastructure in Budget 2017.”
Sinn Féín MLA Cathal Boylan has urged people to have their blood pressure and cholesterol level tested in order to know if they are at risk of heart disease or stroke.
Speaking on World Heart Day 2016, Mr Boylan said:
“I myself underwent major heart surgery and would urge everyone to take care of the hearts.
“Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke is the world’s number one killer.
“A few simple steps like eating more healthily, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking can improve your heart health and your overall wellbeing.
“I would call for everyone to have their blood pressure and cholesterol level tested in order to know if they are at risk of heart disease or stroke.”
Sinn Féin MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today addressed the Northwest Health Innovation Corridor conference at the North West Regional College, Derry.
Established in November 2012 the Northwest Health Innovation Corridor initiative spans Sligo, Letterkenny, Derry/Londonderry and Coleraine, and provides an open innovation network for health and social care outcomes.
The deputy First Minister said:
“We must make every possible effort develop a world class system of universal health care across the island of Ireland, accessed on the basis of need and free at the point of delivery.
“Ministers with responsibility for the Health brief and other government departments are important factors, but so are civil society groups, academia, private businesses and the local community. The vision for the North West Health Innovation Corridor is important to everyone in the North West. Important in terms of access to health provision, healthcare outcomes, the economy and high quality employment opportunities. The approach of joined up thinking, joined up working and using our finite resources to make the greatest possible impact.
“There is an increased prevalence of chronic conditions, mental health and wellbeing issues, and the consequences of unhealthy lifestyles. It makes sense for us to work together to tackle these challenges, to pool our resources and investment, to share best practice, skills and experience and to bring our combined efforts to public health promotion and awareness raising.”
The Northwest Health Innovation Corridor vision is by 2020, the Northwest will be internationally recognised as a health and social sciences research and innovation zone driving the local economy, creating sustainable growth in employment, and creating improvements in health and social well-being that will address health inequalities in the Northwest through the utilisation of the most advanced technology. \
Commenting on the opening of the new £66million Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin which is scheduled to take place shortly Martin McGuinness said:
“The £66million investment includes a €19million euro contribution from the Irish Government. It is a perfect example of co-operation for mutual benefit for all the people in the North West and demonstrates the importance of us all working together on a cross border basis for the benefits of everyone.
“It is vital we address health inequalities, to ensure there is a proper focus on those who live in deprived, and in remote and rural areas, where healthcare services are less accessible. We can address this more effectively and more sustainably for the long term, through collaborative North/South working. The future sustainability of our health and care system depends to a great extent on the creative deployment of innovation and technology. It is imperative our health service embraces modern, imaginative approaches to service delivery.
“The North West Health Innovation Corridor can make a major contribution. By attracting high-quality innovators we can make the North West a place of discovery and invention, leading to the development and adoption of new health care solutions and enable us to deliver the best possible health outcomes for people. Associated with this is the potential to draw in business investment and support the creation of high quality jobs, giving impetus to our local economy here in the northwest.
“I do not underestimate the scale of the challenges we face but I have huge faith and belief in the people of the North West, and the professionals in the health sector, to embrace innovation and develop practical action plans for delivery.”
Sinn Féin TD for Fingal Louise O’Reilly will formally open the Sinn Fein constituency office in The Coachyard in Swords on Friday September 30th. The office will be opened by President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams TD at 6.30pm.
Speaking ahead of the opening Louise O'Reilly said:
“This will be a valuable resource for Fingal Sinn Fein for our Councillors and for our MEP Lynn Boylan and for the constituents in Fingal.
“Sinn Féin is active in the community and this is an important part of our work. We will now have a base in the heart of the constituency which will be fully staffed and which will assist our work on behalf of our constituents.”
Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland-South and the only Irish MEP on the fisheries committee, Liadh Ní Riada, is to participate on the 11th October in a high-level hearing which she has requested in the European Parliament on the potential impact of Brexit on Irish fisheries and on the Common Fisheries Policy.
Liadh Ní Riada MEP said;
“Brexit has brought up challenges but also potential dialogue for the Irish government to seek out a new arrangement to benefit Irish fishermen who have been at a massive disadvantage due to lacklustre government intervention and representation.
“With the Brexit negotiations they must press for new ways to renegotiate previous arrangements with their counterparts in the European Council which is comprised of government representatives for each member state.
“'The European Council hold the real power when it comes to negotiating, particularly in relation to quotas. This is an opportunity for the Irish government to step up to the plate and for once fight for our fisheries.
“Coastal communities right across Ireland have suffered enough and simply cannot afford to be left out of any deals or negotiations in relation to Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy.
“The whole quota system and MSY needs to be revised, especially considering the fact that Brexit will affect distribution and there will potentially be decreased access for our fishermen to Irish waters under British jurisdiction in the north of Ireland, which is both impractical and unjustifiable.
“Whilst Brexit is detrimental to all-Ireland cooperation, trade, freedom of movement and the security of the peace process it is still important to explore avenues where the Irish people can get beneficial concessions, including ending partition and getting the best deal possible for our island.”
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on water Eoin Ó Broin has expressed his disappointment that the Sinn Féin motion calling for the immediate abolition of water charges was voted down this afternoon.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“The Dáil missed an opportunity today to put a permanent end to the debate on water charges by voting against a Sinn Féin motion calling for the charges to be abolished. Fine Gael and its partner in government Fianna Fail have instead chosen to continue with the charade of the so-called independent expert commission and the unnecessary Oireachtas committee.
“More time and taxpayers money will be wasted debating this issue when it’s clear that voters want this charge abolished, not suspended. Minister Coveney’s desperate attempt to take the heat out of the debate hasn’t worked. Contrary to the words in the Minister’s counter motion yesterday, there is no deliberative process in train on the future of water charges.
“The so called expert commission is a waste of taxpayers’ money, labouring under an extremely narrow terms of reference, which exclude any examination of the structure and ownership of water services. Nor do the terms of reference allow for the consideration of the important issues of water poverty and sustainability.
“The commission will now do its work and forward its pre-determined recommendations to the Government. A special Oireachtas committee will be formed to consider those recommendations and early next year the Dáil will be asked to vote on the recommendation of the Committee.
“In my view, this is an incredible waste of time and money. We have been debating these issues since the introduction of water charges in 1994 and their abolition in 1997. We took up the debate again debating with the publication of the Fianna Fáil Water Services Bill in 2003, the Water Services Act in 2008 and the Fianna Fáil/ Green Party Programme for Government in 2008. We don’t need another debate on the matter. We need action. It’s unfortunate that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have again failed to listen to the democratic voice of the people.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Arts and Heritage Peadar Tóibín TD questioned Minister Heather Humphreys with regards the source of funds that will be used by the state if its appeal to the High Court on the future of the Moore Street Battle Site is lost.
The High Court earlier this year accepted that Moore Street was a battle site of the Rising and that nearly all of the buildings on the east side of the street as well as the laneways leading into it collectively constitute a national monument. In June the government launched an appeal against this ruling.
An Teachta Tóibín today sought to find out how much the government had assigned to deal with any eventual costs to the state as a result of this legal action. An answer to this question was not forthcoming. An Teachta Tóibín then sought to ask from which source of funds would the state’s legal expenses come from. The Minister stated that it was likely expenses would be sourced from 1916 Commemoration Funds.
An Teachta Tóibín, who is also Cathaoirleach of the Oireachtas Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Joint Committee, stated:
“It’s a shocking irony that money that has been assigned by the Dáil to commemorate and honour the men and women of 1916 will most likely be spend fighting a court decision which seeks to maim the integrity of the key battle site of those very men and women.
“This ongoing legal and political dispute over the Moore St Battle Field site is running sore. It represents the collision of two Irelands.
“On one side we see the greasy till of the Celtic Tiger property days seeking to engulf the quarter with a gigantic shopping centre. On the other we have a real physical link to an idealistic, brave and selfless generation of men and women.
“That the government is now seeking to use the funds assigned for the commemoration of these men and women to pay for this legal battle, is profoundly shocking.”
Wicklow/East Carlow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has welcomed the World Archery Championships to Wicklow and said it’s a welcome boost to tourism and the economy.
Speaking after attending the opening ceremony which took place on Tuesday evening on Bray Seafront, Teachta Brady said
“I’m delighted to welcome the World Archery Field Championships to Wicklow. It’s a welcome boost to both tourism and the economy. Over 400 athletes and officials have flown in from around the world and will spend the week participating in the championships which are taking place in Kilruddery House and Gardens.
“I want to commend Archery Ireland who secured the right to host the Championships here. Considerable time, energy and effort has gone into securing the Championships and preparing for the event in Kilruddery which will see over 30 countries represented, and everyone involved must be commended.
“This event is providing a welcome boost to tourism and the economy, its estimated the event will directly contribute in excess of quarter of a million euro in the local economy, with many hotels fully booked. I wish the competitors every success and hope they have an enjoyable stay in Wicklow.”