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Speaking ahead of a vote next week in the European Parliament Lynn Boylan MEP called on her fellow Irish MEPs to support her report on the human right to water.

‘The privatisation of water and sanitation services is of grave concern for citizens across Europe, from Ireland in the west to Greece in the east.

‘In my report on the Right2Water campaigns I call on the European Commission to formally recognise this human right to water and enshrine it in legislation. For too long the EU and national governments have ignored the will of their people – water is not a commodity and must remain in public hands.

‘The European People’s Party (EPP), the political group to which Fine Gael belong in the European Parliament, has consistently opposed some of the most important elements of this report.

It is expected it will try to water it down and remove the most progressive aspects I have included, ignoring in the process, almost two million EU citizens who signed the Right2Water campaign.

‘I therefore call on Fine Gael to side with the people of Ireland and Europe who have opposed the privatisation of water services and will continue to do so and vote in favour of my report and the human right to water.’

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"Building a SSE is building an example of a fairer economy" Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has spoken of the importance of the Social & Solidarity Economy and Sinn Féin's commitment to the promotion & protection of the sector.

Speaking at the first European Forum on the Social & Solidarity Economy (SSE) in Brussels this morning, Ms Anderson says,

"Through my firsthand experience of the conflict in the north of Ireland I’ve seen very clearly how the SSE has been used to improve the lives of working people. This sector has thrived when the community stepped up and organised to fill the gap left by the state in providing for people’s needs. 

 "Although across Ireland, the SSE is active and growing, it is my view that the Irish government is still clearly failing to recognise the value and potential of the SSE. We can see a nominal commitment in its current Action Plan for Jobs to promoting SMEs and entrepreneurship. But there is a failure to fully acknowledge the SSE sector, let alone prioritise its development.

"Here at a European level, theEuropean Parliament formally recognised the 'Social Economy' in a resolution in 2009. The SSE represents approximately 10 per cent of all European companies. That's more than 2 million organisations. 

 "But of course, we all know the European institutions are committed to an ideology of austerity and individualism. Again and again, we see attempts to distort and dilute the principles of the Social and Solidarity Economy in the European institutions.

 "It's our job to have that battle out each day in the Parliament and other EU institutions but we can only do it with the vocal support of the sector and the public in our Member States.

 Ms Anderson continued,

"I believe the importance of this sector lies in the fact that when we build an SSE organisation, we are not only building an individual association or cooperative that empowers the local community, we are building an example of a fairer economy - a living, breathing alternative to the current system that puts profits before people. And this poses a threat to those in power in Ireland and in the EU.

 "Sinn Féin representatives have been promoting and supporting the SSE across a range of platforms and we will continue to work alongside those with a commitment to the values of solidarity and community, to articulate the needs and the way forward for the Social and Solidarity Economy." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has said the British government should reject any suggestion of suspension of the political institutions.

Speaking after taking part in a Sinn Féin delegation which met Theresa Villiers today, Mr Maskey said; 

"We had a frank discussion with Theresa Villiers today about the challenges currently facing the Executive and the political process. 

"At the meeting Martin McGuinness made it very clear to Theresa Villiers that Sinn Féin is totally opposed to any suggestion that the British government would suspend these institutions. 

"We also reiterated our support for the peace and political processes. 

"People want to see the parties working together to ensure the political institutions are delivering for everyone in the community. 

"Unionists need to end their sham fight which is all about narrow electoral rivalry.

"They should stand with us and other parties in tackling the real issues of Tory cuts and defending public services and the welfare state."Ends/Críoch

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Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has said the government used every trick in the book yesterday to put a positive spin on the Fennelly Report, saying that the actions of the government fly in the face of their promise of open and transparent governance.

Senator Cullinane is calling for the Seanad to be recalled to discuss the actions of the Taoiseach in the forced retirement of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. 

Senator Cullinane said:

“The stage-managed release of the Fennelly Report last night was a master class in political obfuscation. The late in the day release and the unwieldy, large size of the file that crashed the Merrion Street site meant that media outlets, including the RTÉ 6.1, were forced to rely solely on the Taoiseach’s own statement on the matter, and indeed a rare live interview with the Taoiseach himself.

“The full force of government smoke and mirrors were in use last night, the same well-oiled propaganda organ that preaches of green shoots and recovery. The Irish people were not fooled before and they will not be now.  

“This flies in the face of all that this government promised on coming into office; the new, open, and transparent ‘Democratic Revolution’ didn’t last long. The Taoiseach and his government rushed to judgement in the case of then Commissioner Callinan and realised that they had left themselves wide open for a backlash. Cue over a year of vagaries from two different Ministers for Justice and bluster from the Taoiseach.

“I will be contacting the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad today and requesting that the Seanad be recalled to discuss the serious behaviour of the Taoiseach when he over stepped the mark in forcing the retirement of the Commissioner.

“This Seanad has proven it is not as easy for the Government to bluff its way through as it does so often in the Dáil.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has expressed concern over the potential for further delays to inquests when the chief coroner retires next month. 

Mr McCartney said; 

"The senior coroner in the North is due to retire next month and two other coroners are currently off on sick leave. 

"It has been known for some time that the senior coroner is due to retire and measures should have been put in place before now to ensure a replacement is in place as soon as possible. 

"But it now seems likely that a replacement will not be in position until next Easter. 

"Many families have already waited too long to find out the truth about exactly what happened to their loved ones. 

"They have had to contend with continual attempts by the British government to frustrate their campaign for truth and justice and now they could be facing further delays because of a lack of coroners. 

"The Justice Minister needs to act to ensure relatives seeking justice are not put through more anxiety and distress because inquests are delayed."

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Sinn Féin Vice President Deputy Mary Lou McDonald has published a motion of no-confidence in the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Attorney General Máire Whelan following the publication of the Fennelly report.

Speaking from Leinster House this afternoon, Deputy McDonald said:

“The key issue at the heart of this crisis are the actions of the Taoiseach and the Attorney General. The Taoiseach is reported to have left the then Commissioner with little option but to retire.

“The Report defines the visit of Brian Purcell to Martin Callinane’s as the ‘immediate catalyst’ in Callinane’s decision to retire. This is an action mandated by the Taoiseach that forced the resignation of a Garda Commissioner.

“The Taoiseach strayed into very dangerous territory and then denied his involvement. Subsequently, his cadre of Ministers rowed in behind to defend him. The position of the Taoiseach is now untenable.

“Worryingly, the Attorney General changed her testimony to the Commission regarding the fateful meeting of the 24 of March. Such actions by the government’s lawyer left Justice Fennelly ‘puzzled’ and ‘perplexed’.

“This government has treated the people of Ireland with open contempt for long enough.

“The Dáil should be recalled to discuss the Fennelly Report and Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in both An Taoiseach and the Attorney General.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said DUP efforts to have the licences of republican ex-prisoners revoked are an attempt to subvert the criminal justice system. 

Mr Kelly said; 

"The fact that Peter Robinson has asked David Cameron to revoke the licences of individual republican ex-prisoners is not acceptable. 

“The DUP have quite deliberately chosen to ignore the fact that both of these men have been released unconditionally by the police.

"It is also unacceptable that these individuals have had their identities revealed in the public arena by the media.

"This is clearly an attempt by unionists to subvert the justice system. 

"What is required is a police investigation based on evidence. 

"The police investigation into the recent killings of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan in Belfast should be allowed to proceed without political interference from any quarter."

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Sinn Féin councillor Jim McVeigh has said a decision to withhold funding from ex-prisoners groups was a cynical exploitation of the current political difficulties.

Councillor McVeigh said;

"This decision to withhold funding which was previously agreed for ex-prisoners groups at Belfast City Council was disappointing.

"It was yet another cynical exploitation of the recent tragic events in Belfast.

"Some of the comments made during the debate about community workers, some of whom are ex-prisoners,  were reckless, irresponsible and downright dangerous.

"This move was motivated by the party political in-fighting between the UUP and DUP and it is disappointing that other parties went along with it.

"As a result of this decision, hard working community groups who are making a genuine difference to the lives of local people, may lose out.

"They should not be punished in an electoral battle between unionists for party political gain."

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly today welcomed the conviction of a man who posted threats against his life on social media. 

Mr Kelly, who attended the court this morning, said; 

"I welcome the fact that a man who posted threats against myself on social media in 2013 has pleaded guilty in Laganside Court today and received an 18 month conditional discharge. 

"The post said 'Time to put Gerry Kelly six feet under. Long overdue. No surrender, QS'. It is believed the QS is a reference to the UDA-linked slogan 'Quis Separabit'. 

"It is important that social media is not used as a vehicle to threaten anyone. I brought this case to make people aware that if they make threats on social media they could be facing consequences including convictions in court." 

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Sinn Féin Councillor Cathleen Carney Boud has expressed concern at the growing problem of lack of student accommodation in her constituency of Dublin North West, which takes in the Drumcondra and Glasnevin areas around St Patrick’s College and DCU.

Cllr Carney Boud states:

“There are 16,000 students flocking to DCU and St Patricks College in my constituency of Dublin North West. This demand will increase significantly as the DIT Grangegorman development nears completion. 

In August of this year – when the majority of students hunt for housing – only 5 properties were available in Glasnevin & Drumcondra for less than €850 per month. 23 options were available below €1,400 per month for house shares and only 276 were advertised for room sharing.”

“The lack of student housing shows the depth of the housing crisis overall. In the areas surrounding DCU and St Patrick’s College, students and non-students including families are competing for the same housing and this situation is simply unsustainable. ”

“Sinn Féin is calling for the introduction of rent controls to stem the problem of increasing homelessness, in addition to a strategy to be developed between the state and universities to tackle the lack of student accommodation.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs and Enterprise Peadar Tóibín TD has welcomed a determination from the Department of Social Protection that JJ Rattigan workers involved in the construction of a Department of Education school in the Kishoge site in Lucan are employees rather than self-employed.

Deputy Tóibín lambasted Fine Gael and Labour over what he terms as continued government inaction with regards the “cancer of bogus self-employment within the construction industry.” 

Deputy Tóibín said;

“There are 365,000 RCTs or Subcontractor certificates in the state and it is reasonably estimated that up to 80% of them are bogus. In other words these are workers who should be employed directly but are forced into subcontracting to allow contractors shirk their responsibilities such as the minimum wage, employer PRSI, illness benefit and jobseekers benefit.

“Shockingly, in the Kishoge case, we saw workers being paid just €5 an hour.

“RCTs are being so flagrantly abused that some recruitment agencies actually advertise that normal workers entitlements do not apply. Some within the Department of Social Protection admit that they cannot police the system. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that the DSP only made their determination long after the school was built.  

“The chaos in which the construction industry is in with regards widespread bogus self-employment has serious consequences. Workers are left high and dry with regards basic workers’ rights. The state is cheated out of considerable amounts of tax and PRSI and decent employers who employ directly have a competitive disadvantage.

“The government needs to regulate now to ensure that direct employment is the default position for workers in the industry. There needs to be significant penalties put into place where a person is falsely reported as self-employed and state tenders must be prohibit abuse of bogus self-employment.

“My significant concern is that as, we have seen with low hour contracts in the Dunnes Stores case, that there are many within government whose ideological position sees them favour precarious employment in this sector and will purposefully drag their feet on this issue.”

ENDS

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Speaking following yesterday's publication of the Fennelly Report, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said that the Taoiseach should immediately resign and call a general election.

Sinn Féin intends to introduce a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach and the government at the earliest opportunity and is demanding that the Dáil be reconvened next week.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“No amount of spin by the government or clever use of words in the Fennelly Report can disguise the fact that the Callinan debacle has revealed how dysfunctional this government is.

“It is clear that the Taoiseach’s deliberate actions led to the resignation of the Garda Commissioner. In effect, Commissioner Callinan was sacked.

“The shameful defence of Enda Kenny by the Labour Party and by Fine Gael Ministers is evidence of how far the government parties are prepared to go to protect their own narrow party political self-interest.

“The Taoiseach’s position is untenable. He should resign. 

“The government’s position is equally untenable. There should be a general election.

“The Fennelly Report details a catalogue of Government failures. The Dáil should be reconvened next week to discuss the obvious and serious implications of all of this.

“Sinn Féin intends introducing a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach and in the government at the earliest opportunity.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said that local political parties need to stand together against continued Tory cuts to the Executive’s budget.

 Maeve McLaughlin was speaking after news that cuts to jobs and third-level courses are to be announced at the University of Ulster.

 Maeve McLaughlin said:

 “I am very disappointed that the University of Ulster is preparing to announce job losses at Coleraine and Magee and that entire departments are to be scrapped.

 “The education of our young people is vital to the future prosperity of our society and it needs to be properly resourced.

 “However, the continued Tory cuts to the Executive’s budget is impacting on our ability to deliver front-line public services and social protections.

 “I am calling on the local political parties to get back to the task of tackling the real issues facing all our people, by standing together in opposition to Tory austerity and in defence of our front-line public services and the welfare state.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has said it is grotesque that the British government is spending an extra £500 million upgrading a nuclear submarine base while cutting public services and attacking the poor. 

Mr McElduff said; 

"George Osborne has repeatedly claimed there is no more money to pay for protections for the most vulnerable people in our society and public services. 

"His claim has also been repeated ad nauseam by other cheerleaders for British government austerity locally. 

"But now George Osborne has made a nonsense of his own claims by pledging £500 million for the upgrade of a nuclear submarine base at Faslane. 

"Not only is this pre-empting a decision on the controversial replacement of Trident, it is grotesque that the Tory cabinet of millionaires thinks this is an acceptable use of public money while tens of thousands are being driven deeper into poverty. 

"Those who have previously accepted the Tory myths about not having any more money would do well to reflect on this and join with us and others in a united opposition to the failed austerity agendas of this British government."

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Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said today he was disappointed that other parties rejected a proposal to keep the Waterfront and Ulster Hall under the direct management of Belfast City Council. 

Councillor Ó Donnghaile said:

“Sinn Féin proposed new management arrangements for the Waterfront and Ulster halls as an enhanced ‘in-house’ model.

“It’s clear that the new conference centre at the Waterfront will have to act commercially and in a highly competitive market. However, a restructured and enhanced ‘in-house’ management model could have delivered this.

“We consulted with the Trade Unions, Waterfront Staff and management, as well as senior management in the City Council on our proposal.

“This proposal was rejected by other parties on the council. They voted in favour of the establishment of a council-owned commercial company, which would take on the management of the facilities instead.

“We are disappointed that such an iconic symbol of the new Belfast such as the Waterfront and a symbol of historic Belfast like the Ulster Hall will no longer be directly managed by Council and in turn the citizens of Belfast.” 

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Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has called on the government to come clean about the rate of youth unemployment in Ireland.

Commenting today on CSO statistics Ms. Boylan said:

“The figures clearly indicate that the level of Youth Unemployment has stagnated at 20.7%, holding here for the past three months.

“This figure has is compounded by a number of factors.

“Critically the fact that the Government has yet to implement many of the recommendations put forward in various reports published in 2014/2015 relating to the Youth Guarantee Scheme and the dramatic fall in those taking up place on the exploitative JobBridge scheme.

“To me this is a clear indication that this Government has relied on JobBridge, and similar schemes, not as a method of up-skilling, but as a cynical mechanism to reduce live register figures.

“In doing so, Minister Burton has failed to address the underlying issues facing young people attempting to access the labour market.

“Sinn Féin has presented the Tánaiste with a raft of alternatives and measures which seek to tackle youth unemployment.

“However our focus, unlike the Governments, is on decent pay for decent work, where a reduction in the live register is not the main aim but rather a symptom of a progressive welfare system.”

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Deputy Aengus O Snodaigh has said that the orders given by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in sending the Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Brian Purcell, to the home of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had the ‘obvious effect of conveying to Commissioner Callinan that he should resign’.

Deputy O Snodaigh has also said that the Taoiseach should consider his position and that the Dáil should be reconvened to discuss the report next week.

Speaking after the publication of the Fennelly report Deputy O Snodaigh said:

“The Taoiseach’s spin in relation to the findings of this report is not credible and he must now consider his position. The Dáil must be reconvened next week to discuss this report and the evidence contained therein in relation to serious and multiple Government failures.

“It was inevitable that Commissioner Callinan would see no other option but to resign following a visit by the Secretary General of the Department to his home on the orders of the Taoiseach. The conflicting evidence contained in the Fennelly report is extraordinary and raises questions as to why the Taoiseach felt the need to send Mr Purcell on the Government’s behalf in the manner in which he did, rather than waiting until the following morning’s cabinet meeting to discuss Commissioner Callinan’s position?

“Furthermore, this report calls into serious doubt the position of the Attorney General who was aware of important information for months and decided not to communicate this information with Cabinet members and other relevant parties.

“The events that led to the Commission of Investigation shook public confidence in the administration of the Gardaí. The delay in the publication of this report, coupled with the confusion caused by the Taoiseach in his failure to answer questions regarding his own contribution to the Fennelly investigation and now his less-than-convincing spin that he is in the clear following the publication of this report, has only served to make matters worse.

“The response from Fine Gael and the Labour Party to this entire crisis has at all times been reactionary and has focused solely on political damage control rather than on addressing the root causes of the problem.

“Sinn Féin will examine the report in more detail in the days to come and will continue to question the Government in relation to the way in which the crisis in An Garda Síochána has been handled.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said now is the time for politicians to show real leadership to overcome the current challenges facing the political process. 

Mr McGuinness said; 

"The appalling murders of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan which were carried out by criminals and are now being exploited by unionists for narrow political self interest. 

"I and my Sinn Féin colleagues have taken great risks in support of the peace and political processes over the last decade, facing down violent elements both republican and loyalist. 

"That is what leadership is about and it is clear that now is a time for real leadership from all politicians. 

"Resolution of the current political difficulties will not be achieved through internal unionist electoral contests or naked party politicking. 

"What we need to see now is a united focus on the real difficulties facing the political process, the cuts agenda of the Tory government, as well as issues around parading, identity and addressing the legacy of the past. 

"Sinn Féin will not be deterred from working to find a resolution to those issues and we call on others to do the same."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson today joined with DARD Minister Michelle O'Neill as she met with AGRI Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels regarding concerns around the fall in milk prices.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Martina Anderson said,

"This is a global issue that cannot be solved at a local level.

"A combination of factors are having a negative impact for dairy farmers including the collapse in price of the global dairy market; Russia's ban on imports; reduced demand from important markets such as China. The current rate of intervention is also well below the average cost of production. Farmers need help now before it is too late for their businesses to recover.

"I have been appalled at the lack of response so far from Commissioner Hogan, despite Minister Michelle O'Neill meeting and briefing him in March.

"The dairy industry is one of Ireland's most important indigenous industries and is heavily reliant on export markets. It's also dependant on EU intervention and export funds, funds which the CAP aims to reduce and phase out.

"This industry and the thousands employed in the dairy sector is under massive pressure and urgent action is needed at EU level.

Matt Carthy MEP, a member of the European Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development added,

"Sinn Féin has always said that farmers deserve a fair and equitable price for their produce. We therefore support farmers in their demands and I am calling on Commissioner Hogan to put in place an EU aid package, as the current intervention price does not adequately fulfil the role of providing an effective safety net.

"Agriculture Minister O'Neill has been meeting with farmers and banks regularly to do everything she can to support the dairy sector and it is about time Commissioner Hogan intervened and put the long term survival of farmers ahead of the short term interests of markets." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Sandra McLellan TD, has described a report published yesterday by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) as “distressing” and “shocking to the extreme”.

Deputy McLellan said:

“This report which focuses on the Ballydowd Special Care Unit in Lucan, the largest special care unit in Ireland, has found serious and distressing practices occurring in the unit. It was found that in the unit, children have been locked into their rooms with some forced to urinate on the floor.  

“The Special Care Unit cares for children aged between 11-17 who are deemed a high risk of posing a danger to themselves and others. These are highly vulnerable children with a litany of emotional and psychological problems, leading to disruptive behaviour. It is shocking to the extreme that they are being treated in this manner.

“Children who are in need of care, and deserve to be nurtured and treated with dignity. Single separation should only be used as a last resort and for very short periods of time It was found for example that three children were locked in a room for periods of over 24 hours. This is just unacceptable. There are grave consequences for growing children if even their basic physical needs such as fresh air or exercise aren’t met, not to mention their mental and emotional needs.

“The report’s recommendations must be taken on board immediately. I also urge that another follow-up inspection be carried out promptly. There is too much at stake here with these vulnerable young lives so dependent on those who are in charge of their care.”

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