Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has said the community is in “shock and sadness” over the tragic death of an elderly woman in Keady.
The Newry and Armagh MLA said:
"I share the shock and deep sadness of many within our Keady community at the news of the tragic death of this lady.
"The thoughts and prayers of all are with the deceased’s family and friends as they try to come to terms with the news of her tragic death and I extend my sincerest condolences to them.”
Sinn Féin mental health spokesperson Órlaithí Flynn has urged the Department of Health to ensure all physiotherapists receive appropriate information and guidance on handling patients with mesh injuries.
The West Belfast MLA said:“As urinary incontinence affects up to a third of women at some stage in their lives, much more education and awareness is required.“Better pathways are needed for all areas of pelvic health including for those injured by mesh.
“These pathways should not be rigid as some women injured by mesh feel they are attending physio needlessly.
“The Health Department must take the necessary steps to ensure those injured by mesh are receiving the most effective care and treatment to meet their specific needs."
Sinn Féin MLA Catherine Kelly has urged parents to be aware of the dangers of the internet and to regularly talk to their children about their use of social media platforms, apps and websites.
The party’s spokesperson for Children and Young People made the calls after it emerged that a 12-year-old boy from County Antrim was offered online gaming vouchers in exchange for explicit images on Snapchat.
“This is a very worrying development and reinforces the need for parents to be vigilant of what their children are doing and who they are speaking to on social media.
"Whilst the internet offers opportunities for us all to connect with each other and engage with society in new ways, it can also expose children and young people to very real dangers.
“Technology has become a massive part of our lives, however, children and young people need to be extremely careful about what information they upload onto social media sites.
“There has been a rise in the number of indecent images of children on the internet and in this situation a 12-year-old has been asked to provide explicit images in exchange for gaming vouchers.
"I would encourage parents to beware of the dangers of social media and to regularly speak to their children about their use of the internet and apps.”
Twenty years on from the Omagh bomb atrocity, there is an onus on all political leaders to help build a truly reconciled society, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
The Sinn Féin Vice President commented: “Our thoughts today are very much with the families and friends of all those who lost their lives, and all those who suffered, as a result of the Omagh bomb.
“The Omagh bomb was a devastating human tragedy. It will forever remain as a dark chapter in our history.
"Sadly much pain and hurt has been caused over the years to many people.
"There is a responsibility on political leaders to work together to heal the wounds of the past as the foundation for building a better future. We must work to build trust in each other. We must work to build bridges that we can cross.
"Together we must ensure that the lessons of our past are learned, never again to be repeated.
“That must be the focus of all political leaders in the time ahead. Anniversaries like today, serve as a stark reminder of the importance of efforts to build a reconciled future.
“The horror and loss of the Omagh bombing cannot ever be forgotten. Collectively we owe it to all the victims of the conflict to build a truly reconciled society."
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said students need to be part of driving the campaign to protect rights from Brexit.
Martina Anderson said:
"Today I met with student leaders from the NUS/USI to discuss their concerns over Brexit and to take part in a scenario planning exercise in the event of a hard Brexit.
"I made it clear that there is no such thing as a good Brexit for students, young people or universities.
"Brexit will limit the opportunities of young people, hampering their ability to study, work and live across Europe and could lead to the imposition of international fees for studying across the EU. It could also impact on the funding universities currently receive for vital research.
"Students have a long history for progressive and radical campaigning so I also challenged the student representatives as to what they are doing to oppose the Tory Brexit agenda and to defend their rights and the rights of everyone else.
"50 years ago students were to the fore, among others, in the civil rights movement challenging discrimination and injustice. Today we need to see the same passion and determination from students and their representatives.
"We need to hear students, and all other groups in society making their voices heard and demanding special status for the north."
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Kathleen Funchion TD has called on Minister Richard Bruton to seriously consider implementing a number of reform measures ahead of the release of the Leaving Certificate 2018 results tomorrow.
The Carlow/Kilkenny TD said;
“I spoke in the Dáil earlier this year on the importance of a make-up exam for students in extreme situations that force them to miss exams.
"There will undoubtedly be disappointed young people tomorrow who, for reasons out of their own control, won’t be getting their Leaving Certificate results.
"The Minister needs to seriously reconsider his position on this matter and accept that students deserve every possible chance to complete exams.
“The worry and stress of the lead-up to Leaving Certificate results has undoubtedly taken its toll on the young people of this country in the past number of weeks and will come to a climax tomorrow morning.
"The pressure placed on these young adults is unacceptable and the Minister needs to seriously consider reforming the Leaving Certificate to relieve some of the immense worry the night before these results.
"It is ridiculous that so many years of hard work hinge on one week of exams and the pressure this creates is unhealthy.
“While the vast majority of students will have worked tirelessly and diligently in their study and preparation for Leaving Certificate results, a recent survey by DCU has shown that students do not feel the Leaving Certificate prepared them adequately for University.
"The amount of work done by 6th year students around the country should pay off in university and should most definitely leave them with the necessary skills to begin their college journey.
“The only way to do this is reform. The Minister should acknowledge the impractical learning, the unnecessary pressure and worry and the lack of flexibility in the current Leaving Certificate and implement changes sooner rather than later.”
Rather than saying sorry to the DUP, suspended MP Ian Paisley should apologise to the Tamil people who were slaughtered by the Sri Lankan regime, Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has said.
The North Antrim MLA was speaking after DUP Councillor John Finlay organised a meeting last night at which Ian Paisley is said to have apologised to party colleagues and supporters.
“It isn’t the DUP who Ian Paisley should be apologising to, it is the Tamil people who were slaughtered by the Sri Lankan regime that he tried to defend,” Philp McGuigan commented.
“That is what is at the heart of this scandal. It isn’t the fact that he received lavish holidays from the Sri Lankan government. As wrong as that was, the real scandal is the fact that he lobbied to prevent the UN investigating the mass murder of Tamil civilians by that same government. That is what he should be apologising for and that is what he should be held to account for in the current Recall Petition.”
Philip McGuigan added that the presence of DUP figures at last night’s meeting raises more questions about Paisley’s status within the DUP.
“It has been reported that party officers were at this event so was it an officially sanctioned event in support of someone who is suspended from the DUP and under investigation by the DUP?
“The DUP leadership still refuse to answer these and many other questions around the status and conduct of Ian Paisley.
“The longer they do so, the more they disrespect the electorate in North Antrim.”
Sinn Féin health spokesperson Pat Sheehan has said more needs to be done to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol.
The West Belfast MLA was speaking after new figures showed the highest ever level of alcohol-related deaths in the north.
Pat Sheehan said:
"The figures relating to alcohol-related deaths are frightening and show that greater awareness and education is needed around the dangers of alcohol and addiction.
“I would encourage people to keep track of what they are drinking and try to keep within the alcohol unit guidelines.
"Solutions need to be found to address the dangers of alcohol on people’s health.
"Sinn Féin support the introduction of minimum unit pricing which puts a minimum price per unit of alcohol on products and brands of low cost and high alcohol volume.
"This would target harmful and over- consumption of alcohol.
“There are a range of services in place that can help and support anyone who is worried they might have an issue with alcohol.”
Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD said that huge sums of money spent by the HSE on taxis underlines two things; the need for greater value for money audits on the administrative side of the HSE and pressing need for an Electronic Health Records (eHealth) system.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Oftentimes, there’s legitimate spending by the HSE on taxis for transporting patients between health facilities or home.
“However, it is known that significant sums of money are being spent transferring blood specimens, as well as transferring paper records and files between hospitals because of the lack of an Electronic Health Records (eHealth) system for patient records.
“The rollout of eHealth would guarantee more efficiency, save money, improve patient outcomes, and help doctors and nurses by timely access to patient files. Yet, five years after the eHealth strategy was launched, there has been no determination from the government to roll it out any way urgently.
“Instead, Fine Gael would prefer to see the HSE spending €152.3m on taxis, often for transferring paper folders up and down the country.
“This government talks a lot about value for money, but there are no value for money audits being carried out on this huge spend.”
Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD has expressed his “sincere condolences to the family and friends of Jim McKiernan, former Labor Senator for Western Australia”.
Jim McKiernan, who is originally from County Cavan, died last Friday at his home in Perth.
Gerry Adams said:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of long-time friend of Ireland, trade union activist and leader, and former Labor Senator Jim McKiernan.
“The links between Ireland and Australia are old and enduring. During my visits to Australia, I had the privilege of meeting many Irish-Australians. Some were newly arrived. Others were among the one in three Australian citizens who can trace their ancestry back to Ireland.
“Jim McKiernan was one of the many Irish who emigrated to Australia in search of a new life. He moved to Perth in Western Australia in 1969 where he found work in the shipyards in Fremantle. Like many Irish workers, he was a staunch trade unionist and later joined the Australian Labor Party. In 1984, he was elected to the Australia Senate where he remained until his retirement in 2002.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Jim and his wife Jackie on my two visits to Australia in 1999 and 2004. Jim also hosted Martin McGuinness during one of his visits to Australia, as well as working with other Sinn Féin representatives during their time in Australia. He was proud of his roots and very supportive of Sinn Féin’s efforts to advance the peace process and Irish unity.
“I want to extend my sincere condolences and solidarity to Jim’s wife Jackie, their children Steven, Donna, Jimmy, Lisa, Kim, Kate and Ben, their partners as well as 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”
Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley called on the Gardai to do more to assist the family of missing teenager Castlederg Arlene Arkinson.
The West Tyrone MP was commenting after the Arkinson family criticised the Gardai’s response to the discovery of an unidentified body in a Sligo graveyard. The body was exhumed as part of the investigation into Arlene’s disappearance and murder but an examination concluded that it did not belong to the missing schoolgirl.
Commenting on the 24th anniversary of Arlene’s disappearance, Órfhlaith Begley said: “There are still many unanswered questions over the Sligo exhumation and the family are calling on Gardai to provide that information to the Coroner and the PSNI.
“For instance, Gardai have confirmed that there were more bodies in the plot than expected but they have not said whether these have also been examined.
“Arlene’s inquest is ongoing and the Coroner has also requested further clarification from the authorities in the south. That needs to happen and there needs to be an end to the failures we have seen from An Garda Síochána in the past when they did not produce documents or nominate witnesses.
“The Arkinson family have waited too long for the truth and should not have to put up with more obstacles being placed in their way."
Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has said that the lack of Government action on the sale of home loans to vulture funds means that these funds are effectively acting with the tacit approval of the Government.
Speaking following Ulster Bank announcing the sale of €1.4 billion of distressed Irish home loans to Cerberus, the Mayo-based Senator said:
"We must remember that these are not just financial packages that are being sold on but they are the biggest financial commitment of most people’s lives.
"Homeowners who have had their mortgages sold on have rights which must be protected and it is the Government who should ensure that this happens.
"I am concerned that many buy-to-let properties were included in this latest sale which leaves those tenants in a very precarious position through no fault of their own.
"Together with my Sinn Féin colleague and fellow member of the Oireachtas Finance Committee Pearse Doherty TD, I have consistently requested for these vulture companies to attend the Committee and to answer questions.
"We will again be asking for this to happen as soon as possible. While Ulster Bank say no performing loans are included this does not exclude the possibility that mortgages meeting their restructuring arrangement are included. This must be clarified immediately.
"Overnight thousands more Irish homeowners have been put into limbo. They are concerned and are looking for leadership from the Government to protect their rights. That leadership is simply not there.
"This summer has seen sales of loans by Permanent TSB, KBC, Ulster Bank with little or no scrutiny from Government. The vulture funds have been given free reign by this Government.
"Since 2014 over 15 billion of loans has been sold by Ulster Bank to foreign vulture funds. It must be remembered that these banks are partly in State ownership due to their own recklessness.
"The ordinary citizen has already picked up the tab while the majority of those responsible avoided punishment. The Government need to tilt the balance back in favour of citizens and homeowners."
Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has said people are lucky to be alive following three house fires on the New Lodge road earlier today.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“Three fires occurred at maisonettes on the lower New Lodge road this morning, causing extensive damages to homes.
“People are lucky to be alive, but thankfully due to working smoke alarms in the homes, no one has been seriously hurt.
“Police and forensic teams on the scene have informed local residents that the fires are being treated as sinister. Whilst it is unclear how this has happened, it is clear is that someone could have died as a result.
“I am working with the Housing Executive and local residents to ensure that the people affected are rehoused in adequate accommodation as soon as possible.”
Commenting ahead of tomorrow’s commemoration to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb, West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley described the atrocity as one of Ireland’s darkest days.
“As the MP for West Tyrone, I will be at tomorrow’s event to remember the victims of the Omagh bomb, which was one of the darkest days in Ireland’s troubled history,” she said.
“Commemorations like this are important to help us acknowledge and address the suffering of all victims of conflict as a necessary element of reconciliation and healing.
“Many families were shattered forever by the events of 15th August 1998 and we must never forget their suffering and pain. It should stand as an eternal reminder of the constant need to build on the progress we have made.
“This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement but we should never take the peace we now enjoy for granted.
“The greatest memorial we can build to all those who lost their lives in the conflict is the achievement of the kind of peaceful, reconciled and just society envisaged in that agreement.”
Sinn Féin's spokesperson for Older People, Ian Milne MLA has expressed concern following confirmation that a Failure to Comply Notice given to a domiciliary care provider has been extended.
“Following an unannounced inspection by the regulatory authority, the provider, 'Extra Care' was found to be failing to ensure the safety and well-being of people receiving its care," he commented. "It was also failing to safeguard people from abuse or neglect.
“The failures related to missed and late calls to peoples’ homes, and a failure to properly report and deal with these missed calls. Many of these missed calls were in the Magherafelt and Cookstown areas”.
"The provider was issued with a Failure to Comply Notice on June 7th and this has now been extended, meaning that the identified breaches have not been addressed.
“I have been in touch with the Northern Trust and will be getting an urgent meeting to ensure Extra Care is being brought into compliance and people who depend on their care packages are getting the service they deserve.”
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has welcomed the British Labour Party spokesperson on the North to South Down to engage with local people on the issue of Brexit.
Following the visit, the South Down MP commented:
“I am delighted to have welcomed Tony Lloyd here to South Down today. It is important that the Labour Party hears the views and concerns of local people, including the fishermen of Ardglass, who will suffer the negative impact of Brexit.
“This engagement is in stark contrast to British Government ministers who avoid any contact with alternative views on these issues.
“Today we had a very constructive discussion with the local fishing industry in Ardglass. We particularly focused on the challenges that face the industry in sustaining their livelihoods in the wake of Brexit as well hearing the deep concerns locally about a Conservative government propped up by the DUP in London who care little for indigenous industries or the impact on places like Ardglass.”
Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane has said that the latest sale of a loan book by a domestic bank - Ulster Bank - shows that in reality the government is complicit in the strategy.
The Minister for Finance and government have chosen a “banks first” policy to the detriment of the Irish people.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“After Permanent TSB and KBC, Ulster Bank are now joining the summer sale of loans and of rights. The fact that bank after bank can make this announcement during the Dáil recess shows they have the implicit acceptance of government.
"A 'banks first' policy has been adopted by Minister Donohue in-line with his predecessor’s infamous support for the banks above all others.
"While Ulster Bank say no performing loans are included this does not exclude the possibility that mortgages meeting their restructuring arrangement are included- this must be clarified immediately.
"This is a political issue- it is about the type of economy we are building, one for the people or one for the vultures.
"I am reiterating Sinn Féin’s call for the Finance Committee to meet to discuss these sales.
"Without political direction this Summer will be remembered as the Summer of the Vultures. The banks first policy of Fine Gael is reckless and show they have learned very little.”
“Respite care is one of the most important services provided by the health service. Those who avail of respite services will tell you that it is precious in providing their loved one and their family with much needed rest.
“Last year in the aftermath of the RTÉ Primetime broadcast “Carers in Crisis”, which highlighted the difficulties for those who provide care for a family member or loved one face in the absence of adequate respite care being provided, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health promised improved and increased provision of respite care.
“Therefore, it is utterly unacceptable that despite rising requests and need that less respite care is being provided in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same time last year.
“Figures released to me through a Parliamentary Question show that there was 1,714 less respite care sessions provided in quarter one of 2018 compared to last year.
"Counties such as Limerick had 586 respite sessions cut, Kerry had 400 respite sessions cut, and Carlow/Kilkenny had 558 respite sessions cut. Indeed, these cuts come on the back of close to 15,000 sessions of respite care being slashed last year.
“This situation is completely unacceptable. These respite sessions provide respite and relief to parents and families who have a person in the household with a disability; they are some of the hardest pressed and struggling families in the state, and the evidence shows that this government is failing them.
“We need to see year on year increases and investment in respite services in order to provide for those who currently need care as well as for those who will need it in the future. You cannot slash respite care sessions by thousands of hours and expect things to work the same.
"The cutting of these respite sessions has real life implications for families across the State and it has to be reversed as a matter of urgency."
Sinn Féin Councillor JJ Magee has warned of the dangers of illegal drugs after a man died and others were left in a serious condition in hospital in the Carrick Hill area of North Belfast over the weekend.
Cllr Magee said:
"News of a suspected drug-related death over the weekend is deeply worrying.
"This death is an absolute tragedy for the family and friends of man and our thoughts and condolences are with them at this difficult time.
“I also wish the others currently in hospital a full recovery.
"I would appeal to anyone not to take illegal drugs or anything they are unsure about. And if anyone has taken anything or becomes concerned about a friend who has taken something, they should seek medical help immediately.
“I am calling on everyone to remain cautious and vigilant in the face of this problem, and to share any information they may have with the relevant legal and drug authorities.”
The DUP leadership should state whether it endorses a support event for its suspended MP Ian Paisley which is due to take place tonight, Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has said.
The North Antrim MLA was speaking after DUP councillor John Finlay organised the meeting to show support for Ian Paisley, who is also expected to attend the event.
Philip McGuigan commented: “Ian Paisley has been suspended from both Westminster and his own party over his links to the Sri Lankan regime.
“Such is the severity of his actions in lobbying to prevent a UN investigation of Sri Lankan war crimes after having received lavish holidays from that regime, that he has been given the strongest sanction handed down to any MP in 70 years.
“Despite this, the DUP leadership still remain silent on his actions. They refuse to say how long he is suspended for, or to give any details of the investigation they have announced into his conduct.
“They have also refused to say whether he will be endorsed as a DUP candidate in a North-Antrim by-election if the recall petition to unseat him is successful.
“Now we learn that a support event is to take place locally and again the DUP leadership have not said if this is done with their approval. Do any DUP members, including Ian Paisley as a suspended member, have the party’s endorsement to attend this event?
“Every day that this saga continues, the questions mount for the DUP leadership and they show huge disrespect for the electorate in North Antrim by refusing to answer them.”