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Michelle O’Neill has been named the new leader of Sinn Féin in the North.

Please watch and share this exclusive interview below which tells a bit of her life story as a mother of two from a small village in County Tyrone, her work in politics and in the Executive, standing up for equality, respect and integrity in government and continuing the work that Martin McGuinness has done stretching himself for peace and reconciliation.

You can view a biography of Michelle O’Neill here


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Sinn Féin TD for Public Expenditure and Reform David Cullinane said today that without proper and integrated capital investment, the Government’s rural development plan nothing more than an exercise in public relations.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“Minister Heather Humphreys has decided to reheat the Government’s action plans on jobs and serve it up as something new.

“The reality is that €60m spread over three years and 600 towns and villages is little more than window-dressing when we look at the significant structural and funding issues facing rural Ireland.

“The announcement once again of an Atlantic economic corridor is meaningless without an actual strategy for the West and the island in general that is backed up with funds.

“The deficit in capital investment over the past eight years means that the current state of our infrastructure is a significant impediment to current and future growth in productivity.

“It is difficult to see how this announcement today will bring balance to current Government policy which privileges Dublin and the M50 over the regions.

“Less spin and more planning, backed up with proper financial commitments, is what rural Ireland desperately needs.

“It is something that unfortunately this Government is incapable of doing.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has expressed symapthies to the family and friends of the woman who lost her life in a house fire in Jonesborough.

The Newry and Armagh MLA said:

“The whole community is shocked by this incident.

“This is a deeply tragic event and my thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the deceased victim, who was very well known and respected in the local area.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned tonight's gun attack on a PSNI officer in north Belfast. 

Mr Kelly said; 

"I totally condemn this gun attack on a PSNI officer in north Belfast tonight. 

"It is my understanding that a police officer has been shot in a drive by shooting on the Crumlin Road and that his injuries are not believed to be life threatening. 

"I hope that the injured officer will make a full and speedy recovery. 

"Those responsible for this attack are the same people who are attacking the local community. They have absolutely nothing to offer society and need to call a halt to these activities immediately. 

"I would call on anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI." 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has criticised Israeli plans to defy international law and build 600 more homes on illegal settlements on Palestinian land.  

Ms Anderson said; 

"New plans to build 600 new homes on illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine must be opposed. 

"These illegal settlements fly in the face of international law. The UN Security Council recently passed a resolution calling for a halt to all settlement building but Israel is clearly defying that with this move. 

"Not only is this illegal but it is also hampering efforts to reach a peaceful two-state solution in the region. 

"I have raised the issue of illegal Israeli settlements in the European Parliament and will continue to do so. 

"The international community has a duty to act to challenge this ongoing Israeli aggression and to support the people of Palestine."

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Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann has said the bedroom tax will not be introduced in the North. 

Mr McCann said; 

"Despite scaremongering from some quarters, Sinn Fein have ensured that the bedroom tax will not be introduced in the north. 

"I want to reassure anyone who may have received a letter concerning the bedroom tax that it will not apply here. 

"A package of mitigations, secured by Sinn Féin, is in place so that tenants here will not be penalised by this unfair Tory tax." 

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West Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has called on the DUP Education Minister, Peter Weir, to reverse the notice of withdrawal of funding for hundreds of Youth Workers right across the North.

On Friday Ms Flynn’s colleague, Fra McCann MLA, wrote to Peter Weir seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the funding withdrawal notice.

Ms Flynn said:

“Many youth groups received letters stating that funding given under the Extended Provision Youth Work programme were now being given notice of withdrawal by the Education Authority.

“My colleague, Fra McCann MLA, immediately requested a meeting with Peter Weir and Sinn Féin has been in close contact with Youth Workers to actively support them in resisting this decision.

“The DUP should roll back on this disgraceful notice of withdrawal of vital funding.

“Recently DUP minister Paul Givan withdrew funding for Irish language bursaries for disadvantaged children under the Liofa scheme.

“The DUP minister was forced to reverse that appalling decision after enormous pressure from Irish language campaigners and from Sinn Féin.

“It's important that political representatives, Youth Workers and community organisations in Belfast and right across the North keep the pressure on the DUP to reverse this disgraceful decision.

“This funding helps to support additional youth work, allowing youth organisations to employ hundreds of workers in the most socially deprived communities across the North.

“These Youth Workers carry out work which makes a huge positive difference to childrens’ lives.

“This was yet another attack by the DUP on working class children.

“Peter Weir needs to reverse the notices of withdrawal of funding and end DUP attacks on vulnerable communities.”

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Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd has said the British government's Brexit agenda is at odds with the Good Friday Agreement. 

Mr O'Dowd said; 

"It is clear that the British government's Brexit agenda is in conflict with the Good Friday Agreement. 

"For the British government to claim otherwise is nonsense. 

"On the issue of the border in particular, the British government won't be in control of what happens and is instead relying on increasingly tired rhetoric. 

"This British government's plans to hollow out human rights legislation is also totally at odds with the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. 

"Theresa May and her colleagues are totally in the dark on Brexit and it is the Good Friday Agreement and the people of Ireland who will suffer.

"We need to secure designated special status within the EU in order to protect the rights of all Irish citizens." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has called on Economy Minister Simon Hamilton to state when he became aware that his special advisor's father-in-law was in the RHI scheme. 

Mr Maskey also called on Simon Hamilton to publish a full timeline on the RHI scheme as well as a full list of beneficiaries. 

Mr Maskey said; 

"Revelations that the father in law of the DUP special advisor to economy minister Simon Hamilton was in the RHI scheme has only served to further undermine public confidence in the political institutions. 

"Questions now arise about what exactly Simon Hamilton knew about this and when he was made aware of it. 

"Simon Hamilton now has a responsibility to come forward and make this information public in the interests of accountability and transparency. 

"We need to see the publication of the full list of beneficiaries, with dates of when they joined the scheme, in order to address concerns around any potential conflicts of interest in relation to the scheme. 

"The public are entitled to answers over the DUP's handling of the entire scheme." 

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Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady TD has described responses by Ministers as misleading.

Teachta Brady said:

"Before the Dáil recess at Christmas, I tabled a question to every Minister including, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste in relation to the use of private unsecured email addresses for Ministerial business.

"On the back of my questions a Freedom of Information request was submitted by a reporter which released information contrary to the responses I had received.

"So far, documents released under Freedom of Information relate to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys.

"In one instance, Minister Creed replied to me that he had used his personal Gmail account for non-sensitive correspondence. Yet, in documents received under Freedom
of Information six emails are redacted due to their "commercially sensitive" content.

"The responses I received from the Minister in question was misleading. This is wholly unacceptable.

"The Dáil and indeed, by virtue the public have been totally misled on this matter.

"Ministers must be accountable for their actions and what is set out in the FOI documents received could not be further from this.

 "Further FOU documents are pending from other Ministers on this matter. I call on the Taoiseach to makes a full statement in the Dáil this week on the back of these revelations."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in Dublin today said:

“The Irish government doesn’t have a strategy or a plan to deal with the dire consequences of Brexit for all the people of the island of Ireland. Sinn Féin has argued for an all-island vision. This view is strengthened by the vote in the North, which is to stay within the EU.

“That has to be upheld by the Irish government and all political parties. The government refuses to take up that position at this time.

“Brexit is a hostile action – the British government’s decision to drag the North out of the EU against the wishes of the electorate is a hostile action. This and the indifference of the Tory Government in London toward Ireland, North and South, will destroy the Good Friday Agreement.

“Sinn Féin is proposing that the Taoiseach argue for a special designated status for the north within the EU.  Thus far he refuses to take up that position.

“Instead of engaging with the EU and lobbying for a special designated status for the North within the EU, the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader were asleep at the wheel, speculating about, and being mesmerised by what the British government might do after the Brexit vote.

“It was obvious what they would do. Taking the North out of the EU, against the wishes of the people, will mean that the frontier between the EU and the British state will be on the island of Ireland. It will be an economic border from Derry to Dundalk.  No one in Ireland, North or South, wants that.

“To prevent this the Taoiseach needs to win the support of the other 26 EU member states for the north to be accorded a Special Designated Status within the EU. There is precedent for this.” 

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Sinn Féin said spokesperson on Irish, Peadar Tóibín TD, has said that there is a dire need for a cultural centre for Irish speakers. Deputy Tóibín made his comments in light of recent closure of Club Conradh na Gaeilge which is the only shared space in the city centre for Irish speakers to meet.Speaking today, Deputy Tóibín said:“The recent closure of Club Conradh na Gaeilge, albeit on a temporary basis, has highlighted that there is a dire need for Irish speakers to have a dedicated space in the city centre where they can meet up. Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich in Belfast and Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in Derry city are excellent examples of centres where the Irish language, culture and the arts are promoted.“Apart from the Club Conradh na Gaeilge, which is not accessible to those under 18 as it is a licensed premises, there is nowhere in Dublin that Irish speakers can socialise. The Pop Up Gaeltacht movement, where Gaeilgeoirí gather in a different venue in Dublin City Centre each month, is a brilliant and successful initiative, but this only serves to highlight the demand that exists for Irish language speakers to have a shared civic space.“I cannot understand how the government have not seen fit to provide for such a venue. There are little opportunities for many people to speak Irish when they leave the educational system. A dedicated venue, with a café, theatre and conference room would provide these opportunities for people to talk Irish freely, in a supportive but relaxed environment.


“When one looks at the millions the government has spent on initiatives such as the Galway Art House cinema, it beggars belief that a dedicated, modern cultural space, which is accessible to all is not in existence in our capital city.”

Géarghá le lár-ionad do Ghaeilgeoirí na príomh cathrach - Peadar Tóibín TD

Dúirt urlabhraí Gaeilge Shinn Féin, an Teachta Peadar Tóibín, go raibh géarghá le lár ionad do Ghaeilgeoirí i mBaile Átha Cliath. Rinne an Teachta Tóibín an ráiteas seo in ndiaidh dúnadh do Chlub Conradh na Gaeilge, an t-aon lár ionad a bhí ag Gaeilgeoirí na cathrach.

Dúirt an Teachta Tóibín:

"Le dúnadh sealadach Club an Chonradh, feictear dúinn go bhfuil easpa áiseanna ann do chainnteoirí na cathrach. Ba bhréa lár ionad ar nós Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiach i mBéal Feiriste nó Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin i nDoire a bheith againn chun an Ghaeilge, na healaíona agus ár gcultúr a chur chun cinn.

"Taobh amuigh de Chlub an Chonradh, áit nach ligtear cead isteach dóibh siúd atá faoi 18 de bharr gur teach tábhairne atá ann, níl aon áit inar féidir le Gaeilgeoiri teacht le céile go sóisialta. Leis an rath ar ghluaiseacht an "Pop Up Gaeltacht" sa chathair, is léir an suim agus an t-éileamh atá ann i lár ionad comónta a bhunú do Ghaeilgeoirí.

"Ní tuigtear dom easpa suime an rialtais in a léithéid de tionscnamh. Is beag deis atá ag lucht labhartha na Gaeilge an teanga a úsáid tar éis dóibh an córas oideachas a fhágáil. Tabharfadh lár ionad dá leithéid, le café, amharclann agus seomra comhdhála, deiseanna do dhaoine Gaeilge a labhairt gan bac.

"Nuair a feictear an méid airigid á chaitheach ar thionscnaimh ar nós an phictiúrlann sainealaíne na Gaillimhe, is cúis náire dúinn nach bhfuil lár ionad don Ghaeilge atá nua-aimseartha agus tarraingteach ar fáil do chác i mBaile Átha Cliath."

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Sinn Féin have announced two candidates for the upcoming Assembly Election on the 2nd of March.

Sitting MLA and former Education Minister, John O’Dowd has been re-selected along with party colleague Nuala Toman.

Ms Toman has been selected to replace current MLA Catherine Seeley, who will be acting as Election Agent for the campaign having stepped aside to return to a teaching post. 

Thanking party members for his nomination Mr O’Dowd outlined the importance of this election:

“The collapse of the Assembly was brought about by the DUP's handling of the RHI scandal and allegations of corruption associated with the scheme, as well as the failure to live up to the principles and agreements upon which the institutions were built.

“Martin McGuinness led the way in regards building a fair and just society. We must now build on his legacy and create a society and government we can all be part of and be proud of.

“Sinn Féin are seeking a mandate to stand up to corruption in all its forms and to stand up for the rights and entitlements of all citizens.

“Politicians, political commentators and journalists have all had their say on the alleged financial corruption; it is now time to hand it over to the people and allow them to speak through the ballot box.”

Mr O’Dowd also congratulated his colleague Ms Toman, who previously stood as a Sinn Féin council candidate in Castlereagh South.

Ms Toman is a local Lurgan woman who currently works in party president Gerry Adams’ office spearheading Sinn Féin’s Uniting Ireland taskforce. She previously worked in Educational Development in Queen’s University Belfast, and held senior Research and Policy positions in Glasgow Caledonian University. As a recently married and new mother, Ms Toman is looking forward to the challenge of fighting for two seats in Upper Bann.

Mrs Toman said:

“I am honoured to have been selected by my colleagues to stand for Sinn Féin in Upper Bann in this crucial election, and I pledge to work hard for the people of this constituency.

“We know that the battle for two seats in Upper Bann will be a difficult one, considering the constituency’s reduction from six seats to five.

"We also know that if the electorate comes out to vote and show their anger over the recent RHI scandal, and over the ongoing contempt for equality and Irish identity demonstrated by the DUP, Sinn Féin can indeed maintain two seats and maximise nationalist representation in Upper Bann.

“At the very heart of this election is the matter of building an inclusive society. It is about delivering equality, accountability and respect. Sinn Féin will not tolerate financial scandal, incompetence, or the waste of public money.

“The institutions can only function with the support of the people and can only operate on the basis of equality and respect.” 

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West Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has expressed her anger at the news that the DUP Education Minister, Peter Weir, has withdrawn funding to hundreds of youth worker posts across the North.

Ms Flynn’s colleague, Fra McCann MLA, has written to Peter Weir seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the funding withdrawal.

Ms Flynn said:

“Many youth groups have received letters stating that funding given under the Extended Provision Youth Work programme by former Sinn Féin Minister John O’Dowd is now being withdrawn by the DUP.

“This is another disgraceful decision by the DUP, coming so soon after the withdrawal of vital funding for Irish language bursaries for disadvantaged children under the Liofa scheme.

“The funding helped support additional youth work which allowed youth organisations to employ hundreds of workers to work in the most socially deprived communities across the North.

“I understand in Belfast alone this could impact on around 150 people who work in areas like the Falls and Divis, Lower Shankill, Clonard, Upper Springfield, Andersonstown, Twinbrook and Silverstream. There could be as many as 300 people losing their employment.

“This is an attack on working class communities and working class children.

“There is no doubt that this scheme has impacted positively on communities and young people's lives.

“Peter Weir needs to reverse his decision and end the DUP attacks on vulnerable communities”

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Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill has called on all sections of society to begin a full and inclusive debate about Irish unity. 

Speaking at a Sinn Féin Uniting Ireland event in the Mansion House in Dublin today, Ms O'Neill said; 

"The debate around Irish unity is hugely important, perhaps the most important debate many of us will ever be involved in as we move towards what is in my view, inevitable constitutional change in the years ahead. 

"We need to see individuals and groups from all sectors of Irish society put forward their own ideas on this issue.

"Obviously, we will have different views on the future but that's ok. That's what debate is about. 

"There is a place for everyone in the new Ireland that we are building and we genuinely want unionists to be part of the debate, to be part of shaping our future on this small island that we all share.

"Brexit is bad news for the people of Ireland, North and South. Nevertheless, it also opens up a unique opportunity to look again at a future beyond partition, sectarianism and division, and to a new and agreed united Ireland built in the interests of all the people of this island.

"A new and united Ireland will deliver full democracy to the people of the whole island, including the right of people in the North to remain within the EU.

"Sinn Féin has put forward our ideas and will continue to do so in the time ahead.

"What is vital is that an open, inclusive and fully-informed discussion on the future of Ireland involving everyone begins now."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today opened the Towards a United Ireland conference in the Mansion House in Dublin.

Today marks the 98th anniversary of the First Dáil in 1919.

Today’s speakers include Michelle O’Neill MLA, Susan McKay, Keven Meagher, Brian Feeney, Alex Kane, Mary Lou McDonald TD, Noel Whelan, Cat Boyd and Matt Carthy MEP.

Among the points Gerry Adams will make in his remarks:

·         we need to address the genuine fears and concerns of unionists in a meaningful way.

·         ending partition has now taken on a new imperative following last summer’s Brexit vote.

·         Sinn Féin’s proposition that the North be accorded a designated special status within the EU will not affect the constitutional question. Taking the North out of the EU will. It will destroy the Good Friday Agreement.

·         the North needs a special designated status within the EU. The Irish government needs to adopt this as a strategic objective in its negotiations within the EU 27 as they negotiate with the British Prime Minister.

·         there is at this time no strategic plan coming from the government. That is a cause of real concern.

·         all of this, and the current crisis around the RHI scandal is creating new political conditions. I believe that if we properly frame the positive arguments the potential of a new, reimagined, confident Ireland within the European Union, will prove attractive to some unionists.

·         there is an onus on the Irish Government to prepare a real plan for unity. A first step in this would be the development of an all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Unity.

The Full Text of Gerry Adams TD is attached:

“There are immediate challenges facing those of us who want a united independent Ireland.

These include getting the Irish government to change its policy from one of acquiescing to the union with Britain to one of becoming a persuader for Irish unity; getting the Irish government to begin preparations for Irish unity; and lastly engaging with Ulster unionism on the type of Ireland we want to create.

We need to address the genuine fears and concerns of unionists in a meaningful way. We need to look at what they mean by their sense of Britishness and be willing to explore and to be open to new concepts …

But what is clear is that partition has failed unionists. It has failed nationalists. It has failed the people of this island. And ending partition has now taken on a new imperative following last summer’s Brexit vote.

The citizens of England and Wales voted to leave the EU. The people of Scotland and of the North voted to remain. As the dire economic implications of Brexit take shape there is an opportunity to promote a new agreed Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s proposition that the North be accorded a designated special status within the EU will not affect the constitutional question. Taking the North out of the EU will. It will destroy the Good Friday Agreement.

Clearly the preferred option of many unionists and many nationalists is to remain within the EU.The speech by Theresa May will have reinforced this. The dangers of a hard Brexit are now more obvious than before. The North needs a special designated status within the EU. The Irish government needs to adopt this as a strategic objective in its negotiations within the EU 27 as they negotiate with the British Prime Minister.

I have raised this consistently with the Taoiseach. However, as we saw this week in the Irish governments response to the speech by Theresa May there is at this time no strategic plan coming from the government. That is a cause of real concern.

The British government’s intention to take the North out of the EU, despite the wish of the people there to remain, is a hostile action. Not just because of the implications of a hard border on this island but also because of its negative impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

The British Prime Minister repeated her intention to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court. Along with her commitment to remove Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights this stand threatens to undermine the fundamental human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement. The British position also fails to take account of the fact that citizens in the North, under the Agreement, have a right to Irish citizenship and therefore EU citizenship.

All of this, and the current crisis around the RHI scandal is creating new political conditions. I believe that if we properly frame the positive arguments the potential of a new, reimagined, confident Ireland within the European Union, will prove attractive to some unionists.

This too is an opportunity and a challenge that political leaders in this state need to rise to. That would be helped by those parties and organisations and individuals on this island agreeing steps that advance the goal of unity.

Regrettably at this time neither Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael or Labour have a strategy to achieve Irish unity and the PBP/AAA alliance are against it. This has to change. Irish unity makes sense. Political sense. Economic sense. And it is in the best interests of the people of this island. Sinn Féin is prepared to work with all parties with a professed United Ireland objective.

There is an onus on the Irish Government to prepare a real plan for unity. A first step in this would be the development of an all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Unity.

In addition, plans should be developed for an all-island National Health Service and for all island public services through a ‘United Ireland Investment and Prosperity Plan’.

Now is the time for all parties who support Irish unity to come together to design the pathway to a new, agreed, inclusive united Ireland – an Ireland that is built on equality and which is citizen-centred and inclusive.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for the widest possible discussion of the options for Irish unity and the forms it might take.

He also said support for political parties in the North, based solely on the idea of opposition to Irish unity, is unsustainable in the long term.


Addressing the Towards a United Ireland conference in Dublin today Carthy said:

"Sinn Féin, or any other party or Movement, bring it about on their own.

"We need all those in favour a united Ireland to co-operate, despite differences on other matters.

"Sinn Féin is told by political opponents that our active pursuit of Irish reunification is divisive.

"They say there will be a united Ireland at some undefined time in the future, but that now is not the time.

"But unity will not happen through wishful thinking. It needs a realistic political strategy and actions.

"It needs people, political leaders, the media and civic society to talk about the issue. To discuss the possibilities and the options.

The leadership of those parties which claim to support Irish unity, acting together, could provide the leadership to deliver it."


Carthy said support for a referendum must be generated by mainstreaming the idea within political discourse.

He said:

"For most people, active engagement with a big idea only becomes a reality when there is something tangible to focus on.

"The agreement of a significant section of people, now described as unionists, is required to win a referendum.

"The North has been transformed in recent years, and that transformation is ongoing.

"The North is no longer the Orange state. Many of the certainties held for so long by the old unionist political establishment are gone.

"These changes will continue and are irreversible.

"In this context, I believe that it is essential that those who advocate unity, lay out their vision of what a united Ireland might look like.

"This is crucial in allaying fears within the unionist community of reverse discrimination or cultural marginalisation in a united Ireland."

Carthy said unionists know that society in the South is not the one that existed in the 1950s or even the 1980s:

"Old slogans about a 'priest ridden republic' are so patently out of date, that even the most virulent loyalists no longer use them.

"There are also significant demographic changes occurring in the North as a result of which those who identify themselves as British are declining, while those who identify as Irish or Northern Irish are increasing.

"I believe that political support, based solely on the idea of opposition to Irish unity, is unsustainable in the long term.

"People in the North need real answers to everyday social and economic problems and, as the North changes, wrapping everything up in the Union Jack will prove an increasingly threadbare position."

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Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann has written to the Education Minister seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the withdrawal of funding which funds hundreds of youth posts across the North.

The West Belfast MLA said:

“Many youth groups have received letters stating that funding given under the Extended Provision Youth Work programme by former Minister John O Dowd is being withdrawn.

“The funding helped support additional youth work which allowed youth organisations to employ hundreds of workers to work in the most socially deprived communities across the North.

“I understand in Belfast alone this could impact on around 150 people who work in areas like the Falls/Divis, Lower Shankil, Clonard and Silverstream. There could be as many as 300 people losing their employment. 

“There is no doubt that this scheme has impacted on communities and young people's lives.

“The Minister needs to explain why he has taken this decision, which will no doubt have far reaching consequences for vulnerable communities.

“I have sought a meeting to ask the Minister to reverse this decision.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the publication of the report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. 

Ms Anderson said; 

"I welcome the publication today of the report from Historical Institutional Abuse Investigation. 

"Victims and survivors of abuse and their families have waited too long for this report to acknowledge the horrendous hurt and wrong which was done to them. 

"I took the lead in instigating the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry when I was Junior Minister in the then Offie of First and deputy First Minster in 2012

"I did so against the advice of civil servants and because it was the right thing to do for victims. 

"I want to pay tribute to the courage and determination of all those victims and survivors who came forward and shared their harrowing stories. 

"What they need now is the full implementation of all of the recommendations of the panel in a manner that addresses the needs of victims and survivors, and that includes an onus on the PSNI to carry out a full and thorough investigation. 

"Today victims and survivors received confirmation of what they knew along; that the state failed to protect them as vulnerable children and they deserve and are entitled to an apology for that."

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly’s decision to open an investigation into the links between ECB President Mario Draghi and the G30 group, which includes top private and public bankers and leaders of some of the world’s largest financial institutions.

 Carthy, a member of the Economic and monetary Affairs Committee, said: “This is an important move by the Ombudsman and comes in response to a complaint lodged by the Corporate Europe Observatory.

 “The complaint outlines serious concerns over potential conflicts of interest between Mr Draghi’s role as ECB president and his role in the G30 organisation, of which he is a full member. Other ECB members, including a member of its supervisory board, are also associated with the G30.

 “Incredibly, the former long-serving ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, who is now the chairperson of the G30, has been nominated as the chairperson of the ECB’s Ethics Committee.

 “The most serious concern is that the ECB is now charged with directly supervising many of the financial institutions that are represented in the G30, including Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and many more. There is no system in place to ensure an ethically appropriate level of distance between the ECB decision-making and supervisory processes and their friends in the G30 bankers’ club.

 “There is no way to ensure that the ECB members involved in the G30 do not provide confidential information on future policy decisions, for example, to private bankers in the G30.

 Carthy continued: “The ECB is charged with monetary policy and its quantitative easing policy and other initiatives it has taken in response to the financial crisis have often benefited private banks. There is no way to ensure that the private bankers and finance CEOs of the G30 do not influence ECB policy.

 “When the G30 speaks about the global economy and public policy on banking and finance, it speaks with one voice. So we have the ECB being directly associated with policy recommendations shaped by private bankers and finance giants.

 “The membership of ECB figures in the G30 is entirely inappropriate. It adds yet another layer to the total lack of accountability and transparency in the ECB, and it is clearly at odds with the supposed independence of the ECB.

“I welcome this Ombudsman investigation and hope that it helps to brings about increased transparency around the ECB decision-making processes that affect everyone in the EU.”

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Tomorrow, Saturday 21st January, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD will make a significant speech on Irish Unity and the challenges facing us today.

The conference, entitled Towards a United Ireland, takes place in the Mansion House on the anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the First Dáil, and will feature a wide range of contributors. Gerry Adams will address the conference, which is open to the media, at 1pm.

Speaking in advance of tomorrow's event, Matt Carthy MEP, head of Sinn Féin’s United Ireland strategy group said: “A series of opinion polls taken over many years has consistently shown that a significant majority in the South of Ireland favours reunification.

 “Meanwhile, the North has been transformed in recent years as a result of the Peace Process. "There has been huge change and conditions and attitudes and will continue to change as we go forward.

“Of course, the only poll that really matters is a referendum on this issue. Such a referendum is provided for in the Good Friday Agreement and Sinn Féin has called for one to be held. “This has been given new impetus by the prospect of Brexit dragging the North out of the EU against the democratically expressed wishes of people there.

 “Sinn Féin believes that there is now an urgent need for an inclusive, constructive debate on the future, including how a united Ireland might be brought about and what it might look like.

"Tomorrow's conference promises to be an important contribution to that debate.”

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