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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Sinn Féin's Dáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, has welcomed the meeting held on Wednesday between Agriculture Ministers Michelle O’Neill MLA and Simon Coveney TD to discuss the difficulties facing the Irish beef industry.

Deputy Ferris said:

“Beef farmers and the livestock marts are under awful pressure due to a reduction in cattle prices and the implementation of unreasonable specifications by processors and retailers

“One of the penalties being applied to cattle coming from the South is costing  farmers up to £150 a head, just because it has crossed the border and is being designated 'nomad'.

“Livestock has been traded all over this island for centuries but this healthy commerce is being damaged, to the point of disappearance by this labelling issue, which is having a knock on effect on competition in the marts.

"I welcome the commitment today from the agriculture ministers to address the problem on an all-Ireland basis, intending to write jointly to the main retailers to encourage them to relax their specifications

“Sinn Féin has engaged extensively with farmers and the mart representatives across the country and I will continue to work with our minister in the North, Michelle O'Neill to find an all-island solution to this all-island problem.”

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Continuing his extensive visit to Colombia today Sinn Féin Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy travelled to the Putumayo region on the Ecuadorian border. This is a heavily militarised area which has witnessed displacement, extrajudicial killings, crop fumigation and environmental damage caused by oil exploration.


Conor said: 

"We were met by David Florez of the Patriotic March organisation, who has addressed meetings in Stormont, the Dáil and Westminster. He took us on an eventful journey, involving bus, boat, jeep and motorbike, to the heart of the region to meet peasant farmers, Afro Colombians and indigenous people.  

"This area has seen strike action by peasants and oil workers in recent years over the government policies of fumigation of crops and the displacement of families to facilitate oil exploration.  

"There have also been mobilisations against the environmental damage being inflicted on the area and for better pay and conditions for the oil workers. The response of the military, confirmed by Human Rights Reports, has been to murder peasant leaders, including four in May this year.

"The delegation heard testimony from their families in relation to those and other killings. They all told a similar story of army units surrounding their homes, removing all mobile phones from family members and then sons or fathers being taken away and later found murdered. 

"I also had the opportunity to visit La Picota prison where Huber Ballesteros, a trade union leader, and David Rabelo, a human rights activist, are being held. After a three hour wait, we finally got to meet the two men and hear of the dreadful conditions in Colombia's jails where overcrowding and non-existent healthcare are the norm. 

"Colombia has around 10,000 political prisoners, about 60% of them combatants and the rest from trade unions, human rights groups and political opponents of the government.

"Huber himself is a well known national trade union leader who had negotiated with the government over 22 strikes in 20 years. In the days before his arrest he had met with Congress members and Senators but then found himself accused of rebellion and fund raising for the FARC while abroad on union activities. 

"He has spent 11 months in terrible conditions, with no treatment for his diabetes, awaiting trial. Despite this his spirits are high and his determination to see political change and justice in Colombia remains strong. The government here is "a dictatorship with a democratic face" he said and asked us to help bring an international focus on the need for a genuine peace process." 

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew is one of the invited speakers to address a Palestine Solidarity ‘Stop the Massacre in Gaza’ rally in Parliament Square, Westminster, tomorrow, Saturday at 2.30 pm.

Prior to travelling to London Ms Gildernew said:

“It is an honour and privilege to be invited to speak on this platform in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Sinn Féin condemns the Israeli onslaught on the besieged community of the Gaza strip which has left hundreds of people, mostly civilians and children, dead and thousands more injured. 

“In solidarity Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams has called for a diplomatic offensive by the Irish Government to maximise international pressure on the Israeli administration and the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from Dublin as a first step.

“Our elected representatives in Ireland and Europe have led the calls for inclusive negotiations which must include Hamas to achieve a lasting settlement. While the exact conditions pertaining to the conflict in Ireland are not the same as those in Palestine, the one principle that applies to all conflicts is the need for inclusivity. No imposed settlement that excludes any section of the population can hope to be successful.

“We call on the International community to exert pressure on Israel to immediately end hostilities and enter meaningful and inclusive dialogue to create a lasting peace settlement which respects the sovereignty and independence of Palestine along the pre-1967 borders.

“As part of these efforts, Sinn Féin has called for the immediate suspension of the EU’s preferential trade agreements with Israel. Our elected representatives have raised this issue in the Dáil and European Parliament.

“Sinn Féin is working in the political institutions, Dáil, Assembly, EU and Councils throughout Ireland as well as in cooperation with our friends in Britain and Europe to highlight and show solidarity with the people of Gaza.

“We are in regular contact with the Palestinian representatives in Ireland on matters relating to the Middle East. They support and appreciate the efforts we are making on their behalf.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan has severely criticised government inaction on legacy bank debt in the wake of comments made by Joachim Pfeiffer, the economic policy spokesperson for the parliamentary group of the ruling Christian Democrats in Germany.

Speaking prior to a meeting arranged with the Ballyhea Group in Dublin today, Lynn Boylan said:

“Joachim Pfeiffer stated yesterday that there was no chance of Ireland’s legacy assets being paid by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and that the €60 billion fund would only be used for future bank rescues.

“His words clearly indicate that the government has been sitting on its hands when it comes to this issue and has made no progress whatsoever on legacy bank debt. It is also clear that the European view of Irish legacy bank debt is far removed from the government’s hollow words on the issue.

“Mr. Pfeiffer also stated that if the ESM was used retroactively to compensate Ireland, other countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, and perhaps Italy would want similar compensation.

“His words highlight the fact that the government has not been pressurising other EU states on legacy bank debt. That Mr. Pfeiffer could completely contradict our government is a very worrying fact.

“It is now left to pressure groups such as the Ballyhea Group, who I am meeting with today, to TDs like Pearse Doherty and our MEPs to do the government’s work. I can assure you that I, as Dublin MEP, will work together with all parties to ensure we continue to remind Europe that a deal on our legacy bank debt is a necessity rather than an aspiration.”

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Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the meeting held today between Agriculture Ministers Michelle O’Neill and Simon Coveney to discuss the difficulties currently facing the Irish beef industry.

 Mr McMullan said,

 “The Irish beef sector is under immense pressure due to a reduction in cattle prices and the implementation of particular specifications by processors and retailers

 “One of the specifications surrounds cattle born in the South but processed in the North as these are being classed as 'NOMAD'.

 “There has been a longstanding all-island trade of livestock which is now suffering due to this so called 'NOMAD' issue, which is   simultaneously having a knock on affect on competition, particularly across the marts.

 "I welcome the commitment today from both Agriculture Ministers to address the problem on an all Ireland basis with both promising to jointly write to the main retailers to encourage them to relax their specifications

 “Sinn Féin has engaged extensively with farmers and the mart representatives across the country and I will continue to work with our Agriculture spokesperson in the Dáil, Martin Ferris to find an all-island solution to this all-island problem.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD said the Irish Government ostrich mentality was responsible for Ireland’s tax reputation being damaged.

Deputy Doherty, who was responding to comments from US President Barack Obama concerning Ireland being a low tax jurisdiction in use by US MNCs trying to avoid tax, said:

 “It’s two years now since an investigation in the US heard sworn testimony from the heads of Apple that Ireland had allowed the company a special tax rate ensuring an incredibly low effective tax rate. But talk of Ireland being a channel for aggressive tax planners has been rumbling on for a while.

“The response of the Irish Government, and of Fianna Fáil and establishment agencies has been to deny, deny, deny. They seem to see this as some sort of perverse patriotism, when in fact in it this ostrich approach that has left Ireland exposed and potentially under threat of job losses. Multinational companies have made an invaluable contribution to the Irish economy and it is vital that we keep their revenue and the jobs created – but also, that we are aware if any event or sequence of events has the potential to threaten investment in Ireland and that we cancel the threat, or plan for it. That’s good governance.

“Already, at Sinn Féin’s request, an Oireachtas sub-committee was established to examine Ireland’s role in international tax laws. However the refusal of other party representatives on the committee to invite in business leaders for questioning severely undermined the committee’s ability to function.

“Last year I also presented the Government with legislation to ensure Irish incorporated companies, non resident anywhere in the world, would be considered resident in Ireland for tax purposes. The Irish Government refused to accept the legislation, claiming there was no problem, but months later introduced a watered down clause in Finance Bill 2013. After intense pressure for our party and other responsible agencies, the Government is now looking at other measures to ensure Ireland is not seen as a tax haven – we can only hope it’s not too late. 

“Ireland should continue to offer a competitive, efficient and fair tax system to international business. We should be conscious of our global responsibilities and ensure that no company is able to use Ireland in a scheme that contributes to damaging the tax generating abilities of developing nations.

“In addition, we believe strongly that the tax levied on MNCs should be no more and no less fair than the tax levied on indigenous companies, who generally pay the headline rate of corporation tax and cannot use international tax planning to reduce, proportionately, their tax bills. Sinn Féin will continue to work to that end.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has written to the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny asking him to recall the Dáil to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the response of the Irish Government.

The call follows a decision by the Government on Wednesday to abstain in a vote on an emergency debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on the crisis.

Gerry Adams said:

"Irish citizens have been appalled at the Israeli Government's military onslaught against the civilian population of Gaza.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Irish towns and cities in recent days to express their outrage at the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian men, women and children by one of the most powerful armies in the world.

"Incredibly the Irish Government refused to reflect that widespread concern when it abstained in Wednesday's crucial vote at UN Human Rights Council.

"The resolution, which the Government refused to support, sought to establish an international Commission of Inquiry into violations of human rights in Gaza.

"It also condemned the killing of Israeli civilians by rocket fire from Gaza.

"It explicitly urged 'all parties concerned to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law'.

"Most Irish citizens cannot understand why their Government did not back this reasonable and balanced resolution.

"It was a considerable honour when, two years ago, Ireland won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for the first time.

"However, not only did the Irish Government fail to use its vote positively in the cause of justice and human rights on Wednesday, it did not even speak during the debate at the Human Rights Council.

"This was a shameful episode for the Irish Government and an act of political cowardice. It does not, in my view, represent the overwhelming view of the Irish people.

"Since the passing of the resolution by the UN Human Rights Council, the situation in Gaza has deteriorated further with the Israeli military targeting a UN school resulting in the deaths of even more children.

"I believe the Dáil must be reconvened at the earliest opportunity to discuss this very serious situation and I wrote to An Taoiseach yesterday to this effect. Thus far, I have received no response.

"Today, Sinn Féin will be contacting TDs from all parties with a view to enlisting as widespread a consensus as possible for a recall of the Dáil to discuss the urgent humanitarian crisis in Gaza and what the response of the Irish State should be."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has reiterated her opposition to controversial fracking and vowed to continue to campaign vigorously against its introduction to Ireland. 

Ms Anderson said;

"Sinn Féin's position on this issue is very clear; we remain solidly opposed to any form of fracking.

"Our party has continually stood with the people of Fermanagh in opposition to fracking, which would have a devastating impact on the natural environment. 

"That policy is clear and has been ratified at several party Ard Fheiseanna. 

"In every elected fora, local councils, the Assembly and the Dáil, Sinn Féin has voiced our opposition to fracking and vowed to block it at the Executive if and when a planning application is made for fracking near Belcoo. 

"In the European Parliament I have repeatedly made it clear that Sinn Féin is strongly opposed to tracking. 

"I have consistently voted in favour of mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments for both the exploitation and exploration phases. 

"I also submitted my own amendments to European Parliament reports calling for such impact assessments in order to protect our environment. 

"That stands in stark contrast to the voting record of other parties from the North in the European Parliament, who have repeatedly voted against plans for mandatory environmental impact assessments. 

"Both the DUP and UUP need to explain to the people of Fermanagh and Ireland why they do not support measures to protect our environment from fracking. 

"For my part, I will continue to strongly oppose fracking in all its forms and to stand up for the people of Fermanagh."

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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD has repeated his criticism of the Irish government decision to abstain in the vote on the Israeli assault on Gaza at Wednesday’s emergency debate at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

Mr. Adams pointed out that “the UN resolution is reasonable and balanced. It reads:

‘The Human Rights Council… Condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire, and urges all parties concerned to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.’

The refusal of the Irish government to support this resolution was a shameful act of political cowardice.”

The Sinn Féin leader made his call today after the Israeli military bombed a UN school in Gaza killed 15 people and injuring many more.

Mr. Adams repeated his earlier call for the Irish government to expel the Israeli Ambassador.

Mr. Adams said:
“The bombing by Israeli forces today of a UN school and the killing of at least 15 Palestinian  civilians, is further evidence of the failure of the Irish government and others in the international community to defend the civilian population of Gaza.

The Israeli government is acting with impunity and the EU and the Irish government are failing to stand up to Israeli aggression.

The statistics of death and destruction, and in particular the slaughter of women and children, has to be stopped.

The government should move immediately to expel the Israeli ambassador in a clear message of condemnation of the actions of the Israeli government”.

Videos

Demand for Israeli ambassador to Ireland to be expelled reiterated


Photos

Michael Colreavy TD & Cllr Darren O'Rourke