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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Speaking in the Dáil during the debate on the private members motion in relation to world debt and the upcoming G8 meeting, Sinn Féin T.D. Arthur Morgan outlined Sinn Féin's view that debt cancellation needs to be accompanied by the ending of structural adjustment programmes and the thorough reform of the international financial institutions.

Deputy Morgan said:

"The debt burden on developing countries is a symptom of the disease that is at the core of the international financial institutions, namely the IMF and the World Bank. The role of these two antidemocratic bodies in world politics needs to be challenged.

"Sinn Féin demands the overhaul, reform and democratisation of the IMF and World Bank. These institutions and the interests they represent are responsible for the debt crisis. Every action they take is designed to benefit developed states at the expense of developing states. They were designed for this purpose and they are structured in a way which subjugates the interests of the developing countries to that of the powerful developed states and in particular the USA. They have played a huge role in the growth of inequality in the world.

"The voting rights within both these bodies are stacked in favour of the developed states and against the developing countries.

"Many of the developing states burdened by debt are within their rights under international law to refuse to pay these debts on the bases that the debt is 'odious' that is where a despotic power contracts a debt not according to the needs and interests of the State.. When the notion is successfully invoked, the state debt becomes the personal debt of those responsible during the dictatorship and cannot engage the financial resources of the state. This state should actively encourage such states to invoke the notion of odious debt where possible.

"Citizens of developing countries are disempowered as economic policy is decided by the IMF and the World Bank. This is done by way of the structural adjustment programmes which are imposed upon indebted countries and which have dramatically aggravated the problems facing those states. Their central aim is to impose upon developing countries economic policies approved by Washington.

"Structural adjustment programmes (SAP) force governments in developing countries to open up their state‚s economies - to export more and spend less. Developing country governments are forced to drastically reduce public spending, cutting social budgets such as education, health, housing and infrastructure, and ending subsidises on products or services of primary necessity. All of this has drastic consequences for local populations as living conditions in these countries have substantially deteriorated since the introduction of SAPs .

"Debt cancellation needs to be accompanied by the ending of structural adjustment programmes and the thorough reform of the international financial institutions." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has described the agreement between the Bogside Residents' Group and the Orange Order as a testament to the effectiveness of meaningful dialogue.

Mr. McLaughlin said: "With the agreement comes the desire and expectation that the Orange Order's 12th July march in Derry can be carried out in a peaceful and dignified manner.

The willingness of all sides to participate in meaningful and inclusive dialogue created opportunities for a number of outstanding issues and areas of concern to be discussed and resolved and I would applaud the common-sense approach taken to this process by the Orange Order and the Bogside Resident's Group.

Such an approach should be used as a model for those areas where contention still exists around the issue of Loyal Order marches. I am sure that if the desire for accommodation that exists in Derry can be replicated in other places across the north then a significant step can be taken towards a resolution of all contentious marches." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called upon Jim Allister MEP to work with her 'to ensure that all communities, regardless of their religious or ethnic make up can avail of PEACE Funding based upon objective needs'.

Ms de Brún made her comments before DUP MEP Jim Allister is due to hold an information evening tonight, for representatives of the unionist community on PEACE II funding in the North.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"Jim Allister's decision to hold an information evening on the impact and distribution of PEACE funding is to be welcomed. It is vitally important that community groups and other such organisations are fully informed about funding opportunities. However, the advertising for this evening's meeting has been based on unfounded claims. Mr Allister has billed the meeting as an opportunity 'to address the anti-Unionist bias which has existed' in the PEACE programme.

"Mr Allister's assertion that there has been an anti-unionist bias in the allocation of PEACE funding is without foundation. This funding has been distributed on the basis of need, and should continue to be based on such criteria in future.

"As a fellow MEP, I am calling upon Mr Allister, and indeed Jim Nicholson to work with me to ensure all communities, regardless of their religious or ethnic make up can avail of PEACE Funding based upon objective needs. Mr Allister must recognise that without the peace process, such funding would not be possible. It is actually ironic that the DUP have consistently opposed the peace process, but are prepared to accept the benefits which flow from it." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, during Leaders Questions today, asked the Taoiseach if the Government will accept and implement a recommendation from the National Economic and Social Council that there be an increase in permanent social housing units, owned and managed by local authorities, of the order of some 73,000 units between 2005 and 2012. Deputy Ó Caoláin pointed out that there has been no provision for a debate in the Dáil on the report.

Speaking today he said, "There has been no debate in this House on the report from the National Economic and Social Council, entitled 'Housing in Ireland: Performance and Policy', which was published six months ago. I am not aware of any response from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to the recommendations of the NESC report. The report cites evidence from other states showing that only through increased social housing provision can the housing crisis in this State be seriously tackled and also the terrible tragedy of homelessness for so many.

"Based on all of this I asked the Taoiseach today if the Government plans to accept and implement the recommendations made in this report. Unfortunately the Taoiseach managed to avoid the question by referring to a building programme that includes private building, which is at an unprecedented level. The Taoiseach completely failed to address the focus of my question and I find this totally unacceptable not only to me but also to the 48,000 households on the housing waiting list." ENDS

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that the election of party colleague, Councillor Toireasa Ni Fhearaiosa is 'an indicator of the change which is sweeping through Irish politics.'

Ms McDonald made her comments at the offices of Kerry County Council, after the new mayor made her acceptance speech.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"This is a proud and historic day for Irish republicans the length and breadth of the county with the election of Toireasa Ni Fhearaiosa as Mayor of Kerry. Not only is she a shining example for other young people who want to become involved in politics, but she has become the first female mayor of Kerry.

"Toireasa's election is an indicator of the change which is sweeping through Irish politics. People have become disillusioned with the establishment parties and see Sinn Féin as a credible and radical alternative. Sinn Féin is committed to radicalising and revitalising politics at a local, national and international level.

"I want to take this opportunity to wish her all the very best in the coming year. I know that she will work tirelessly to include everyone, particularly those within society who are most vulnerable and most in need." ENDS

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South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has called on the DUP to begin to show political leadership on the issue of flag flying in mixed areas. Mr Maskey's remarks come after unionist paramilitaries have been erecting flags in mixed areas in South Belfast and Dunmurray over recent weeks.

Mr Maskey said:

"It is obvious given the fact that unionist paramilitaries have been erecting flags outside PSNI barracks on the Lisburn Road and in Dunmurray over the past week that the PSNI are not going to be part of a solution to this problem.

"Unionist politicians and in particular the DUP have to recognise that these displays are nothing to do with expressing a culture and are instead everything to do with intimidating nationalists and Catholics who live in these mixed areas.

"The time has long since past for the DUP to begin to exercise the political responsibility which comes with their increased political mandate. A first step upon this road would be for them to tackle head on the continued flying of loyalist and unionist flags in mixed areas.‰ ENDS

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Following the discovery of an electronic listening device in the loft of a well-known republican activist's home this morning Foyle Assembly Member, Raymond Mc Cartney said:

"This is just the latest evidence that the PSNI, Special Branch and British Military Intelligence have no intention of entering a new mode.

"This morning workmen carrying out renovations to the home of Derry Republican, Andrew Mc Cartney discovered an electronic device planted in the kitchen ceiling cavity. Although it is impossible to determine how long this sophisticated device was in place it has to be assumed that it was placed there with the authorisation of either British Secretary of State Peter Hain or his predecessors.

"This is totally unacceptable and only serves to highlight the fact that while the British government is demanding acts of confidence from others it is intent of carrying on with its criminal activities against republicans.

"I intend to have this matter raised with both governments by my Party Leader Gerry Adams to demand an explanation for and an end to these attacks on the rights of republicans to live free from this type of unwarranted invasion of their family privacy and harassment.

"I would also strongly advise republican activists to have their homes searched for such devices." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, MP for West Belfast, has welcomed today's commitment by Minister for Education Angela Smith to give Gaelscoil an Lonnain, Falls Road, formal recognition. Gerry Adams has raised this matter with the Minister in the recent past and spoke to her again yesterday:

"The commitment which Angela Smith has now given will secure the future of Gaelscoil an Lonnain for the next 3 years. This Irish medium primary school has been playing a vital role in the life of the lower Falls community on a shoestring budget. The fact that Gaelscoil an Lonnain will now receive support from the Department of Education is the good news which parents, children and staff in this school have been waiting to hear. I now hope that this breakthrough will enable everyone in Gaelscoil an Lonnain to prepare for the new school year in September." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has condemned the decision to lock up the five men who have been attempting to halt the laying of a potentially dangerous gas line through their lands. The five men were sent to prison this afternoon after they refused to give assurances that they would not obstruct work on their lands.

Speaking today he said, "I condemn this decision in the strongest possible terms. These men have legitimate concerns regarding the threat to safety that this pipeline may pose.

"I am calling for the immediate release of these five men and a complete halt to all work at the site until an independent safety assessment has been carried out and published." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly members Alex Maskey and Caitriona Ruane will meet with the British Minister for political development David Hanson today at 11.45am at Stormont Castle. The Sinn Féin delegation will raise with the Minister concerns about upcoming Orange Parades, particularly in Ardoyne on July 12th and the internment of Sean Kelly.

Mr Maskey said:

"The meeting today was designed to deal with political development, however it could not of course avoid the major problem which we are now facing over Orange Parades given the attitude being adopted by the Order particularly in Belfast towards contentious routes. The Orange Order in Belfast have adopted a confrontational approach to both the Parades Commission and local communities which they are seeking to parade through whereas in Derry I welcome the fact that the Order has entered into a process of dialogue which has seen an accommodation reached.

"At a time when the rest of us are seeking to minimise confrontation and ensure a safe and peaceful summer the Order in Belfast have adopted an entirely contrary course. We are particularly concerned with the demand of the Orange Order to return home after the twelfth parade via Ardoyne. This demand if conceded by the Parades Commission obviously has the potential to cause enormous difficulties.

"These difficulties have of course been exacerbated by the stupid and unwarranted decision of the British Secretary of State Peter Hain to intern Sean Kelly. Many former prisoners are now rightly questioning whether they are prepared to continue to put themselves in the front line trying to stop trouble at parades and interfaces given the treatment which Sean Kelly has received.

"Sinn Féin have put a massive amount of time and effort into securing a peaceful summer. This has in recent years had some significant success. However the confrontational attitude adopted by the Orange Order in Belfast is making this task all the more difficult. The Parades Commission and the British government need to recognise this reality also." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has urged people across Ireland to support the Make Poverty History rally in Dublin on Thursday 30th June at 6.30pm. He said that this rally would send a strong message to G8 leaders meeting in Scotland next week and would help put the issue high on the political agenda in Ireland.

Mr. Adams will be taking part in the Make Poverty History rally in Dublin on Thursday evening and will be accompanied by Martin McGuinness MP, Mary Lou McDonald MEP and TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Sean Crowe.

Mr. Adams said:

"Next week, as the G8 leaders meet in Scotland, hundreds of thousands of people will travel there to increase the momentum to make poverty history.

"The eradication of poverty is achievable. It requires those governments who signed up to the Millennium Declaration five years ago to keep to their commitments. It requires the provision of more aid, better targeted and sustained. It requires fair trade not unrestricted free trade that favours the richest countries and punishes the poorest.

"If money used to pay off foreign debt was diverted back into health and education, and the other goals set by the Millennium Summit were implemented, the lives of seven million children could be saved each year. That is the lives of 1000 children every hour, of every day, of every week could be saved.

"For this to happen pressure needs to be kept on political leaders in countries across the world.

"While the focus next week is on the G8 Summit in Scotland, Ireland can play a part. You can show your support by wearing the White Band, by attending rallies, by putting pressure on the Irish government to show real leadership on this issue. They have a strong role to play and with sufficient support we can make that happen. The Irish government must start by setting a new deadline to reach the UN target of spending 0.7% of GDP on aid and this time this must set out a year-by-year strategy to show how this will happen. It can't remain a pipe dream. They can use their strength at European level to get the EU to adopt a Trade Justice approach. They can fight for human rights proofing of all EU aid and trade policies.

"Play your part. Support the rally in Dublin on Thursday 30th. Help make poverty history."ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP said that remarks today by direct rule Minister Shaun Woodward have damaged confidence in his ability to deal with the very serious issue of the suicide:

"Shaun Woodward met with families bereaved by suicide and community activists last week. He heard from them their experience of suicide. He claimed he was in listening mode. However, based on his remarks today, he clearly wasn't listening to those he met last week.

"In his remarks today, he sought to abdicate responsibility for the failure of the Department of Health. And what greater failure could there be than having more people, especially young people, die in the whole of Ireland as a result of suicide than in most other countries in Europe."

"Undoubtedly the conflict in all it forms has had an impact on suicide. However, the evidence shows that social deprivation, unemployment, the lack of community resources, the under-funding of mental health services, and above all, the failure to develop a strategic approach to suicide prevention are in fact the greater cause of the higher than average levels of suicide particularly amongst our young people.

"Whilst Shaun Woodward holds the position of British direct ruler with responsibility for Health, he is responsible for the unforgivable failure of his Department to develop, fund and implement a suicide prevention strategy. Sinn Fein, together with families bereaved through suicide, and communities across the six counties will hold him accountable for rectifying that failure. No more excuses Mr Woodward - we want delivery of the strategies, policies and resources this serious issue requires." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly Member, Raymond McCartney has called for the immediate suspension of the PSNI personnel who were seen on the UTV Insight programme physically assaulting members of the public. Mr McCartney has written to Nuala O'Loan's office seeking an urgent meeting to address the issues relating to this incident.

Commenting on the TV images Mr McCartney said:

"Like most people I was enraged to once more see the footage of a vicious assault by a members of the PSNI on a number of young Derry people. This is further compounded by the fact that these same personnel remain on duty. Sinn Féin has requested a meeting with the Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan and we will use the meeting to raise a number of crucial questions."

Mr McCartney went on to outline the questions he has raised in the letter which Sinn Féin has sent to Mrs O'Loan.

· "Did the Ombudsman seek the immediate suspension of the personnel involved?

· If not, then why not?

· If suspensions were asked for - then why was the request ignored?

Mr McCartney also stated that he will be drawing to the attention of Mrs O'Loan the report that her office commissioned on the use of batons by the PSNI.

Mr McCartney concluded:

Those who claim that the PSNI are now being held to account have serious questions to answer in relation to this incident. It appears to me that there is only one course of action possible and that is the immediate suspension of these personnel and their prosecution for assault and battery." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has welcomed the approval of a visa waiver for Sinn Féin representative to the U.S. Rita O'Hare.

Mr. McGuinness said:

"There was concern at the recent refusal of a visa waiver for Rita O'Hare. She has been traveling to the US for some years to ensure the continuing strong US support for the peace process. In the time ahead, all those elements of American support -- the White House Administration, Congress and Senate and Irish America will continue to have a strong and crucial role to play. We would like to thank those in the US who supported the issuing of this visa."ENDS

Note: Unfortunately a family bereavement has prevented Ms O'Hare from traveling to the US this week as planned, to meet with Congressional members and others in Washington DC and New York.

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West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty says that in light of Minister Shaun Woodward's wide-ranging speech on health today, and specifically in light of his assessment that certain services are clinically unsafe in the Sperrin Lakeland Trust Area, due to lack of anaesthic cover, the onus is now on the Minister to secure the necessary resources and finances to retain services at the Tyrone County Hospital.

He said,

"In his statement, Shaun Woodward flagged up a report from the Risk and Governance Review of Acute Hospital Services and on reading between the lines in what he said I am fearful for the short term retention of services at the Tyrone County.

"It is ironic the Risk and Governance Report was highly critical of management failures in maintaining and developing services within the Trust area and yet the it seems as if the victims of these failures will be acute services at the Tyrone County Hospital.

"However, if there are short term difficulties in providing adequate medical cover for acute medical services at Tyrone County, there is an onus on the Minister to secure the necessary resources in terms of personnel and finance so that acute services can not only be maintained but also developed at the Tyrone County in the medium to long term." ENDS

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Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly will be available to speak to the media tonight, Tuesday 28th June, at 7pm at the junction Leper Street and the New Lodge Road in North Belfast at the Protest organised by the Free Sean Kelly Campaign.

Speaking ahead of the Protest Mr Kelly said:

"There is widespread anger at Peter Hain‚s capitulation to the demands of unionists and those opposed to the peace process within the NIO by interning a pro-agreement republican who has done much to reduce interface tensions.

"This was a stupid decision that means that many republicans, particularly ex-political prisoners who play such a positive role in managing difficulties at interfaces are in a vulnerable position and fear that they could be victimised in the same way as Sean Kelly if they continue to contribute to effectively managing those tensions.

"Ex-prisoners play a vital role within their communities and in developing the process of transition from conflict to peace. Peter Hain needs to stand up to unionists and those within the British system who are opposed to the peace process because they have nothing to offer the future." ENDS

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Sinn Fein MLA Michael Ferguson has called upon the Department of Education to meet its Human Rights Obligations to Ethnic Children under Article 2 Protocol 1 of UN Convention following a meeting with the INTO on the impact of cuts to the Education Budget.

"English as an Additional Language" Teachers across the Five Educational Library Boards found their Services surplus to requirement following the announcement of £31.6 million cut to the Education Budget and as a direct consequence many have been forced into redundancy and others have secured work elsewhere.

The problem however, is that there as many 500 Children across the Education & Library Board who have a legal entitlement to Educational support and only 12 weeks to provide it.

Commenting upon the situation Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson said,

"We have at least 500 children for whom we have legislative duty of educational care and because of appalling bad management and the absence of a coordinated and strategic approach to the delivery of Education to these children they may find themselves falling behind educationally. This could lead to apathy and children giving up on schooling, adding to the ever increasing number leaving school with literacy and numeracy difficulties.

"It is essential that the Department of Education come up with an interim proposal that meets these children's educational needs in the short term. In the longer term we need a policy on the educational needs of ethnic children that is rolled out across the Six Counties in a strategic way that makes sense.

"The Department of Education is currently sailing very close to denying these ethnic children their human rights as guaranteed under Article 2, Protocol 1." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has again lambasted the heavy handed and sectarian nature of the PSNI in Ballymena towards the Nationalist Community.

His comments come after 3 arrests were made at an Orange Order parade in the town.

Mr McGuigan said:

"It is obvious from the partisan treatment handed out to the Nationalist and Republican community of Ballymena that the PSNI here in Ballymena operate in a sectarian manner. They don?t even try and cover up this fact.

"I will again be contacting the police Ombudsman regarding this operation. I will also be contacting the Irish Government also, as Bertie Ahern's Government have an obligation to protect the rights of Northern Nationalists. I intend to make sure that he fulfils his obligations.

"I will be inviting the Irish Government to send representatives to monitor future sectarian parades in Ballymena and to investigate the abusive pattern of policing.

Mr McGuigan also said it was about time the Parades Commission made a determination banning what he called 'sectarian and triumphalist parades' from the Nationalist North end of the town.

"These parades are unwelcome here by the residents who live in this part of Ballymena. It is simply not good enough that the parades commission and the PSNI are cheerleaders for sectarianism." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson, Upper Bann John O'Dowd MLA has said men's health needs to be taken seriously by the Health Department , his comments come following the joint CREST / Diabetes UK Report on Men's Health and its findings which show men with Diabetes are dissatisfied with the emotional and physiological support they receive from the Health Service.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"In January of last year, the Men's Health Forum in Ireland launched the publication of the Men's Health Report, the most comprehensive study ever carried out on the entire island of Ireland into men's health. It is a source of concern that 18 months later this report and its recommendations remain on the shelves of the two Health Departments in both parts of Ireland gathering dust, with the momentum of its launch and the potential health gains for men, lost.

"This latest CREST/DIABETES UK publication shows that men with Diabetes are still not receiving the emotional care and attention they require, this can mean without such support an individuals medical condition can deteriorate as the person becomes despondent and fails to regulate their medication and care. It has to be a cause of concern for all that 80% of those men questioned had not received advice from a Health care professional in the last year.

"However, I also accept that the failure of men to attend their GP also is a reason behind such a percentage. One of the reasons why men do not attend their GP or discuss their health with friends or work colleagues or even discuss their feelings with their partners or family is because of Irish male masculinity. Sexual problems or emotional stress is something the Irish male will not necessarily discuss freely, even with their GP.

"Government needs to look at the findings of toady's report and the recommendations of the Men's Health Forum report ,we need to examine ways forward such as

  • The establishment of a multi sector advisory group with health officials and other stakeholders who are engaged in men's health at statutory and community level, which would provide terms of reference in relation to men's health and monitor and assess progress made north and south.
  • The creation of Research and Information Collection database to provide up to date trends and statistics.
  • The development of a national policy on men's health relevant to all men on the island
  • Increased education, training and awareness on men's health issues.

"Men's health is not a competition for the resources being quite correctly directed towards women's health, it is a stand alone issue. ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, speaking at a public meeting organised by the Limerick Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped has pledged Sinn Féin's support to the scrapping of the current Disability Bill and for the introduction of rights-based legislation.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Sinn Féin is attending this meeting tonight to offer our unwavering support to all those who have been campaigning and continue to fight for rights-based disability legislation. We strongly opposed the recent Disability Bill before the Dáil and we are here tonight to make a commitment to people with disabilities and to their family, friends and supporters that if we are a party in Government after the next election that we will seek to have the current Bill scrapped and have rights-based legislation introduced in its place.

"As part of our campaign work in highlighting the deficiencies of the Government's flawed Disability Bill and detailing our opposition to it we are currently in the process of printing and delivering over 100,000 newsletters across the 26 Counties." ENDS

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