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Opinion piece by Martin McGuinness on current political situation in the Assembly

This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has commended the strides made yesterday for equality, but has highlighted the many other aspects of...




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Cllr Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has urged the NRA and the Government to deliver the n28 as soon as possible, in light of the decision by an Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission to the expansion of the Port of Cork.

Speaking today, the Sinn Féin General Election Candidate for Cork South Central stated that without the N28 upgrade, the expansion of the Port Facilities would be hampered if the road upgrade is delayed in any manner.

He said;

"I note the decision of an Bord Pleanála to grant the application for a redeveloped port of Cork facilities in Ringaskiddy. There are issues of Local Concern, in relation to Noise, Dust, and nuisance, and it is essential that these are addresses now by the Port of Cork, particularly given some of the commentary from the planning inspector in the his report on the application."

"Nonetheless, the development of the Port of Cork is crucial to the economy here in Cork, in terms of the Marine Economy, in terms of regeneration of the City, in terms of employment, and in terms of linkages with Europe."

"However, it will not be possible for the new Port Facilities, for which planning permission was granted today, to reach it's full potential without the N28. Indeed the Port of Cork's own Strategic Infrastructure Development  (SID) application recognised that the RoRo (Roll on Roll off) element of Phase 3 cannot happen without the N28, and that is logical given the impact it would have on the local community."

"Therefore, if we are to truly see the benefit to the economy locally, and nationally, of this infrastructure, then the Government and the NRA need to deliver this road."

"I have tabled a motion to the next Council meeting calling on them to do so. I will also be travelling to Brussels on Tuesday to meet with representatives of the European Investment Bank, and DG Move (European Department on Transport and Mobility). The n28 is eligible for funding under the TEN T programme of transport infrastructure, and I will be lobbying for this funding, to ensure this road is delivered."

"The people of the locality, in Shanbally and Ringaskiddy have already been waiting far too long for this upgrade, with substantial Freight and traffic driving through their villages. That needs to be brought to a halt with this upgrade, and at the same time, allowing us the opportunity to deliver on the full potential of the Port of Cork for the local economy, and for the community as a whole."

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane has said that the success of the Irish Open in bringing people into South Down needs to be built upon.

 Ms. Ruane said,

 “I would congratulate the organisers of the Irish Open for selecting the Royal County Down course at Newcastle for this years tournament.

 “Already we have seen the interest in the Irish Open with large crowds attending the first few days and the event being sold out over the weekend.

 “However we cannot allow this event to pass us by without building on the potential that its presents for the entire South Down area.

 “South Down has many attractions from the St Patrick’s trail to its natural assets of unspoilt beaches and the Mourne Mountains.

 “I will be looking for the Minister of Enterprise Jonathan Bell, local councils and businesses to help develop a strategy that maximises this opportunity by creating a major  promotion campaign over the next few weeks.”

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Sinn Féin agricultural spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the upcoming trip to China by DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill to open up new markets for farmers and the agri-food sector here.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “If we are to increase our own farming and agri food sectors it is important we search out new markets and ensure countries around the globe see the high standard of our industry here.

 “China is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and I believe the promotion of our pork industry will be one of the main items on the agenda.

 “The trip by the Minister is a follow-up trip to continue the growing relationship between Northern farmers, food producers and China.

 “There are also opportunities to expand our agri food industry including dairy products, which are one of the fastest growing sectors in China.

 “I am sure this visit like the previous ones will deliver for our farmers and agri food sector with an increased number of contracts which will be reflected in greater growth here in the North.”

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 Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has questioned the EU Commission on the implementation of the new transparency rules for the lobbying industry.

This comes as reports show that the vast majority of meetings held by the EU’s top two energy and climate officials have been with the fossil fuel sector.

Ms Bolan said:

“This information is accessible thanks to the new lobbying transparency legislation introduced late year  when the Commission announced that Commissioners, their cabinets and Director Generals would have to begin publically declaring any meetings they have with stakeholders.

“The legislation highlights how many corporate groups and vested interests in energy have access to top officials compared to those working in the NGO sector, attempting to combat climate change.

Ms Boylan continued:

“While the new regulations are an important first step in tackling the opaqueness of lobbying within the EU institutions, they only cover a relatively small number of Commission officials.”

“It should also be noted that Emily O'Reilly, the European Ombudsman, has opened an investigation into the transparency of the informal negotiations that take place aimed at  reaching early agreements between the European Parliament (EP), the Council and the Commission.

 “I have submitted a question to the Commission asking it to address a number of key concerns I have about the scope and the implementation of the new legislation.

 “Given that the Commission units and the heads of units have an instrumental role in shaping policy and decisions, shouldn’t the new transparency rules be expanded to all Commission officials?

“If this will not be the case then I would like the Commission to explain why not?

“I would also like the Commission to explain how it is monitoring and ensuring that that the new transparency rules are being adhered to?”

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Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney is to raise the issue of British state collusion in the deaths of hundreds of people at Stormont in the wake of further damning evidence in a Panorama programme.

The Justice Committee vice-Chairperson said:

"I believe the revelations in Thursday night's Panorama Programme that the British state killed hundreds of citizens through systemic collusion with loyalist death squads will have shocked many people.

“For many years Sinn Féin has worked with and supported relatives of the victims of collusion.

“There is now a growing body of evidence that collusion between the RUC’s Special Branch and British Military Intelligence was organised on a massive scale.

“That collusion has extended into decades of cover-up by the British Army and the PSNI continues to frustrate and delay inquests and investigations into the murders of victims of state and state-controlled death squads.

“The families of the victims have called for a full independent inquiry into the state's involvement in the murders of their loved ones. I support them in this call.

"I will also be calling for a full debate on the Panorama revelations at Stormont at the earliest opportunity."

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Sinn Féin Youth Affairs Spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly has today cited a report from the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce as further example that the Irish government is not doing enough for our emigrants who wish to return home.

Senator Reilly said:

“Only a few short weeks ago, Minister Michael Noonan stood in the Dáil and proclaimed that our young emigrants are coming back.”

“I called the government out on this at the time by highlighting the facts which showed a completely different story.”  

“The number of new graduates emigrating is higher than at any time in the previous six years, and last month over 7,000 young Irish citizens aged between 18 and 35 snapped up Canadian work visas in a matter of minutes.”

“This report from the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce highlighted that among those surveyed many had a desire to return home but felt that there are significant barriers stopping them from doing so. Of those surveyed, 98% felt that not enough was being done to encourage migrants to return by the government.”

“It is worth noting that emigrants have identified four key barriers to their return: poor infrastructure, precarious working conditions and low pay, lack of career opportunities and progression, and a lack of affordable housing.”

“Nothing has been done by this government to address these problems in any meaningful way.”

“There are some excellent recommendations made in the report, and if the government are genuinely serious about facilitating the return of our emigrants who wish to do so, they should take on board the suggestions made.”  

“However, if this is to be another report which falls on deaf ears, it will be further example that Fine Gael and Labour have no ambition to help our emigrants return home.” 

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has expressed concern at HIQA findings that a HSE care centre for adults with intellectual disabilities in Co. Cork had fire exits locked, unclean areas, and damaged equipment.

 Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

 “Grove House was found to have an inadequate level of compliance with the Health Act 2007 requirements. The report outlines how many areas of the centre were unclean and that fire exits remained locked. I also note the finding that residents were not adequately supported to develop skills to enable them live as independently as possible. This is their home and they must be supported to have as fulfilling and independent a life as possible.

 “The action plan at the end of the report identifies additional improvements required to ensure compliance with the Act and that must be put in place.

 “I again call for the introduction of a Patient Safety Authority and for private residential facilities to be open to further scrutiny, including that of the Ombudsman. It is clear that standards are not as high as they should be in certain public and private facilities across the state.” 

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Galway based Sinn Féin Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh has today revealed that there has been €146 million taken out of the Budget for University Hospital Galway over the past six years while waiting lists for outpatient appointments currently stands at over 30,000.

O’Clochartaigh said:

“The waiting list figures for University Hospital Galway are scandalous and among the worst in the state. 

“The National Treatment Purchase Fund shows that, instead of the numbers decreasing there has actually been an increase of 1,000 to the outpatient waiting list at the hospital between March and April.

“While these figures are truly shocking, it is little wonder as the staff at University Hospital Galway have been consistently asked to do more with less.

“Figures from the Management of the Hospital revealed in a Parliamentary Question show that a cumulative amount of €146 million has been taken from the Budget of the Hospital over the past six years by successive Governments.

“The results of such systematic underfunding are clear to see as over 1,000 people are waiting over a year for inpatient treatment while over 7,000 are on the outpatient waiting list for over a year.

“This revelation comes the same week as the psychiatric nurses working in the hospital have been forced to consider industrial action in order for HSE management to address their very real concerns about their unsafe working environment.

“ It is not good enough for Government Ministers up in Dublin to be congratulating themselves for an economic recovery that has not reached Galway while our health service is bursting at the seams.

"The Minister for Health must answer to the people of Galway in relation to these figures and take immediate action to ensure that our Hospital receives adequate funding and resources to tackle these waiting lists."


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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has expressed his serious concern that the controversy around Siteserv and the recent court proceedings by businessman Denis O Brien “threaten the freedom of the press and are a direct attack on the right of Oireachtas representatives to speak freely and in the public interest in the Dáil and Seanad.”

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“The Oireachtas needs to reassert its authority in this situation. I have written to the Taoiseach asking that the government recall the Dáil next week to discuss this important constitutional issue. This is imperative given that almost the entire opposition signed up to a motion seeking a full Commission of Investigation into the sale of Siteserv.  

“The government should also immediately seek clarification from the Attorney General on the rights of Oireachtas members in respect of Dáil privilege and the media in reporting this.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Parliamentary privilege is a cornerstone of how the Oireachtas operates. Protected by the constitution, TDs and Senators must be secure in the knowledge that they can speak freely and frankly on issues of grave national importance.

“Teachta Catherine Murphy acted in good faith on information given to her on a matter that is extremely serious. Now, the courts are being used in an attempt to subvert the constitution and to shut down the ability of the media to report on matters of significant public interest.

“Article 15.12 of the constitution states ‘All… utterances made in either House wherever published shall be privileged.’

“Despite this, the court action by Mr. O Brien and claims by his lawyers that Teachta Murphy’s information are covered by an existing temporary injunction have ensured that the media are reluctant to report comments in the Dáil.

“This unacceptable situation undermines the integrity of the Dáil, of our democratic Parliamentary system, and denies the public information which it has a right to.

“In recent months, there have also been attempts in the Dáil to gag Dáil members, including Mary Lou McDonald, from exercising their constitutional right to inform the public.

“The Oireachtas needs to reassert its authority in this situation. I have written to the Taoiseach asking that the government recall the Dáil next week to discuss this important constitutional issue. “This is imperative, given that almost the entire opposition signed up to a motion seeking a full Commission of Investigation into the sale of Siteserv.”

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Sinn Féin the only party in the North firmly opposed to austerity - McGuinness


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Senator Kathryn Reilly, Mary Lou McDOnald TD & Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD