Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has said that he is disgusted and angered at reports that the PSNI racially abused and assaulted a Turkish born street trader in Belfast over the weekend.
Mr Maskey said:
" At the weekend PSNI members forcibly removed a Turkish born street trader called Musa Gulusen from the city centre. The man was subsequently hospitalised and has been treated for a broken arm and bruising to his face and back. The man was racially abused by the PSNI members present both inside the land rover and in front of witnesses on the street. In anyone's terms this was a vicious racist attack.
" Given the statistics which show a complete failure by the PSNI to tackle ongoing racist attacks in the city the news of the weekend assault in the city centre may provide some rational for this. How can ethnic minority communities or indeed any of the rest of us have confidence in a force tackling racist attacks when its own members have no problem engaging in similar behaviour in the broad light of day in the middle of Belfast City Centre.
" In any other job or profession if these sort of allegations were made the individuals involved would be suspended immediately. Instead the PSNI refuse to comment and hide behind the office of the Police Ombudsman." ENDS
Commenting on reports that Six County MPs are to secure rights to represent their electorate in the Dail, Sinn Féin TD for Louth Arthur Morgan said that this had long been a key demand for his party.
Deputy Morgan said:
"Sinn Féin has been campaigning for Northern representation in the Daíl and Senand as a matter of right for many years. If provisions are made for unionist MPs to attend and speak at Westminster then similar measures should be put in place for nationalist and republican representatives in the Daíl.
"Sinn Féin has presented detailed proposals on this issue to both the Oireachtas committee tasked to deal with this matter and in various negotiations with the Irish government including the latest one. I believe that the case for Northern Representation is compelling and our representations have received a positive hearing. I am hopeful that early progress can now be made on this important issue of equality and democratic rights in the time ahead."ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, speaking in Belfast this morning said "the Question which must be asked and answered by Ian Paisley is - is he prepared to sign up to a comprehensive agreement which will have his party share power with Sinn Féin? Is it Yes or is it No?
In the next 48 hours we have the opportunity to make a quantum leap forward in the process.
Is all of this going to be thrown away because Ian Paisley does not get the process of humiliation he wants?"
The Sinn Féin President added:
"After the Leeds Castle talks, it was publicly acknowledged by the two governments that substantial progress had been made. The two governments need to follow through on the logic of this.
"Republicans are up for a deal. We want the institutions back up and running, we want the Agreement implemented and we want the agenda for change to continue. That is why we have gone the extra mile.
"But with 48 hours left Ian Paisley has to start saying Yes. The DUP refusal to embrace power sharing and equality can no longer be used as an excuse to paralyse the process of change." ENDS
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has revealed that the British government have confirmed in writing to Sinn Féin that they will deliver a peace dividend as part of any deal.
Mr McLaughlin said:
"Sinn Féin have been arguing strongly within the negotiations for the British Government to deliver a substantial peace dividend as part of any overall deal. I believe that the case we put to them was irrefutable.
" The British government have now agreed that a significant peace dividend is necessary. I obviously welcome that. But the content and terms suggested to us by Paul Murphy fall very short of what is required. Sinn Fein will now meet with the British Government to ensure that any peace dividend is significant enough to make a real impact, particularly on the human rights and equality agendas.
"Having brought the British government to this position, we will continue to press them to ensure that any financial package is significant and that it is used to the benefit of those communities which have suffer most from the conflict". ENDS
Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East, Councillor Daithí Doolan, speaking ahead of tonight's City Council meeting, has urged fellow Councillors to support a motion calling on, "the Minister for Environment to establish a National Trust to protect and preserve our heritage."
Councillor Doolan said:
"Tonight's motion is calling for the establishment of a National Trust and to urge any newly established Trust to investigate the long term protection of Bewley's Cafes here in Dublin.
"Any economic development in Dublin must not be carried out at the expense of our social and cultural heritage. Development must not mean creating English high-streets in our cities. It must mean developing indigenous industry unique to our own cities in Ireland. Bewleys provides Dublin with exactly that, Bewleys is synonymous with Dublin and must be protected to preserve the character of Dublin. Tonight's motion, if passed, will ensure that future developments will compliment and not destroy our city centre."
Cllr. Doolan concluded by calling on all parties to support tonight's motion, "and thereby preserve the unique role of the social, cultural, economic and architectural fabric of our city." ENDS
Ballycastle Sinn Féin representative, Cathal Newcombe, has criticised recent comments made by PSNI head, Hugh Orde, at last weeks opening of the refurbished Ballycastle Police Station.
Mr Newcombe said:
'Last Week the P.S.N.I Chief Constable Hugh Orde officially opened the new police station in Ballycastle. £600,000 was spent manufacturing the station to look more 'user-friendly'. Hugh Orde commented at the opening ceremony, "The work re-enforced the police service's commitment to provide the people of Moyle district with professional, progressive and locally focused policing".
'Mr Orde obviously hasn't spent much time with police personnel in Ballycastle or he would acknowledge that policing in the Moyle District is a disgrace. Each weekend the police observe fights breaking out at the sea-front and around the Diamond area of the town. The police make no attempt to intercept these incidents; instead they watch from the safety of their cars while bystanders often get seriously assaulted or abused and property is quite often damaged.
'They may have spent over £ ∏ million giving Ballycastle police station a makeover, but it is the police structures and attitudes that need the makeover. The police's attitude in Moyle must change. Moyle like many other areas in the Six Counties have not yet seen the benefits of the diluted Patten reforms.
'Just last week Bill Lowry, the man who spearheaded the raid on Sinn Féin offices in Stormont and brought down the Assembly, showed his true colours by joining Ian Paisley on a platform at a DUP fundraiser. Another former RUC man has released a book that uncovers the sectarian sub-culture that permeates throughout every level of the force, thus reinforcing the argument that Sinn Féin has been putting forward for years.
'Police in Moyle must tackle issues such as drugs, burglary, violence, car crime and criminal damage. Sadly, citizens here feel let down when it comes to effective policing, as the PSNI seem more interested in a local charm offensive and spending thousands on publicity campaigns. And no matter what Mr Orde says, I can assure him that Ballycastle police are far from professional, progressive and locally focused.
"When Mr Orde took up his post he assured the public that he would steer clear of making political statements and focus on providing an adequate police service. Instead he has taken every opportunity to criticise republicans and has yet to break his silence on actions like the sinister early-morning raids that the PSNI made on nationalist homes in Ballymena. We're a long way off getting a fair and adequate police service if Mr Orde refuses to stand up to the sectarian sub-culture that has permeated through the police here for so many years. It'll take more than a dab of paint and a fancy police station to convince nationalists that the police have radically changed."ENDS
Local nationalists gathered at Ballymena‚s PSNI station over the weekend to protest at the ongoing harassment of young members of the nationalist community. The event was attended by 20-30 people, some of whom have been personally affected by the ongoing police campaign.
Speaking after the event, Ballymena Sinn Féin representative Michael Agnew said:
"In recent months the PSNI in North Antrim and Ballymena in particular have been engaged in a campaign of harassment against nationalists. This has included early morning raids on homes and general disruption being caused to local nationalists‚ everyday lives.
"The attendance of so many young people here today is an indication of who is suffering the brunt of this PSNI campaign. To actively recruit young people to spy on members of their own community and put them under such enormous stress is appallingly cruel.
"Because Sinn Féin gave support and guidance to these young people the police have stepped up their actions against republicans in the town as well. The mysterious Œdissident‚ threat to Ballymena has yet to materialise and was used as an excuse to raid ordinary nationalists‚ homes in Dunfane and Fisherwick. They have also concentrated their resources on demonising Sinn Féin and myself in recent weeks but none of this will not succeed. Nationalists in the town are not stupid and can see through their charades.
"If the PSNI were to concentrate as much time on tackling drug-dealers in this town as they do on their anti-republican PR campaign we wouldn't have such a big drugs problem on our hands. Its time that police members made in the mould of Bill Lowry and Ronnie Flanaghan did the honourable thing and retired. Political policing must come to an end if we are to properly address the problems that it has created in our society."ENDS
Sinn Féin MEP's Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou Mc Donald will visit the North West tomorrow, Monday, at the invitation of Foyle MLA Mitchel Mc Laughlin.
The two MEP's will meet with community Groups and Businness leaders during the daylong fact finding visit.
Following separate meetings with RAPID and ILEX they will attend a lunch with invited business, community and civic leaders at Da Vinci's Hotel, Derry, hosted by Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA.
Bairbre de Brún MEP and Mary Lou Mc Donald MEP accompanied by Sinn Féin National Chairperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA will hold a Press Conference in Da Vinci's Hotel, Culmore Road, Derry on Monday 6th December at 2-15 pm.
The two Sinn Féin MEP's will be in the North West to meet with business, community and Civic Leaders to see how best they can use their presence in Europe to help address the infrastructural and economic deficit in this Region.
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin today said that nationalists would be 'puzzled, dismayed and indeed angered by the SDLP after Alex Attwood became an amplifier for the demands of the DUP'.
Mr McLaughlin's remarks came after Mr Attwood repeated DUP demands on the issue of weapons.
Mr McLaughlin said:
"Not for the first time the SDLP have departed completely from the terms of Good Friday Agreement on a crucial issue. One of our tasks in this negotiation has been to protect and defend the fundamentals and principles of the Agreement from attack by the DUP. We will continue to do this despite the positions adopted by the SDLP on a range of important areas.
"The decision of the SDLP and Alex Attwood to become the amplifier for the demands of Ian Paisley and the DUP will puzzle, dismay and indeed anger many nationalists at this time."ENDS
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has this evening revealed that the British government have confirmed in writing to Sinn Féin that they will deliver a peace dividend as part of any deal.
Mr McLaughlin said:
"Sinn Féin has been arguing strongly within the negotiations for the British Government to deliver a substantial peace dividend as part of any overall deal. I believe that the case we put to them was irrefutable.
"Tonight the British government have agreed that a significant peace dividend is necessary. I obviously welcome that. But the content and terms suggested to us this evening by Paul Murphy fall very short of what is required. Sinn Fein will now meet with the British Government to ensure that any peace dividend is significant enough to make a real impact, particularly on the human rights and equality agendas.
"Having brought the British government to this position, we will continue to press them to ensure that any financial package is significant and that it is used to the benefit of those communities which have suffer most from the conflict".ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty briefed the party leadership in Belfast on the prospects for a comprehensive agreement involving the DUP.
Pat Doherty said,
" On Wednesday our party negotiating team made our final representation to the two governments on their proposals.
" Despite our obvious scepticism about the DUPs approach, and particularly our scepticism about their willingness to buy into the core principles of the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein approached all of these discussions positively.
" We have spent months in detailed and thorough-going discussions with the two governments across all of the issues. I think we have all been patient over the past months. But this phase of discussions cannot be drawn out interminably.
" A comprehensive deal is possible. But it can only be done on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement. The DUP must move away from the failed approaches of the past. The days of second-class citizenship, domination and humiliation are over. The British Prime Minister has a particular responsibility to impress this on the DUP leader." ENDS
Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East Councillor Daithí Doolan speaking today following a disabilities conference hosted by "People with Disabilities in Ireland" to mark The International Day of Disabled Persons said, "The adoption of the Barcelona Declaration was a major step forward but is only a stepping stone to ensuring that we make our towns, cities and society more open and accessible to those with disabilities."
"To ensure this progress is built on, the government must redouble their efforts to make sure that the disabilities bill currently going through the Oireachtas is a rights based bill that can receive the endorsement of all those with disabilities in this state.
"To make the Barcelona Declaration a reality in Dublin we must:
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún met with a range of community sector organisations today to discus the implications for their work of the extension of the PEACE II programme and the future of EU funding more generally. The meetings with the community-based projects took place throughout the day, hosted by the Training for Women Network and Playboard, and the Falls Community Council.
Speaking today Ms de Brún:
"Sinn Féin lobbied successfully for an extension of the PEACE II programme. This November we welcomed and supported a proposal that would have seen an extra €120 million for 2005 and 2006.
"We have strongly supported PEACE II extension on the basis that it will allow key community sector projects and organisations to continue the important work of social inclusion, peace building and tackling discrimination.
"I am aware that throughout the community sector there is considerable concern with regard to the amount of money secured, the uncertainty with regard to 2006 and decisions about how this money will be prioritised and spent. Sinn Féin has stated for some time that future rounds of peace funding need to build on past strengths but also to learn from previous limitations and mistakes.
"The two governments must adopt an approach where groups working at the coalface of these programmes are central to the design and implementation of measures to distribute and use such funds.
'"Both governments need therefore to ensure that meaningful discussions are not limited to those with Brussels. Contact with those working at the coalface must also be ongoing, transparent, meaningful and respectful. Nothing should be planned or developed behind closed doors. This would be contrary to the ethos of PEACE
"Concern was expressed in particular about the future of positive action for women and about childcare. I reiterated today the support I expressed in the European Parliament committee meeting last week. This is a vital element of peacebuilding." ENDS
Sinn Féin national Chairperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has said that the momentum for a genuine Peace Dividend is growing. Speaking after a meeting of the Sinn Fein negotiating panel, Mr McLaughlin said:
"The British government have neglected our infrastructure for decades. This has damaged every part of our infrastructure - our roads, schools, hospitals, railways and sewerage. There is also a damming legacy of discrimination, inequality and disadvantage that must be tackled. The solution is not to increase the tax burden on people here through the water charges and rates increases but for the British government to accept its' responsibility to compensate for this under investment.
"Recently we have seen a £30 million cut in the policing budget and Gordon Brown able to identify an additional £1 billion to keep down the Council Tax in Britain; we have also seen the evident crisis in funding for the Education Library Boards and the failure to increase capacity within the health service hitting waiting lists and threatening substantial deficits over the next three years.
"This identifies the potential of extra resources from the British 'security' budget and that the ability of British Treasury to find additional resources when it requires them. It also highlights the significant levels of need. The British government should not pocket the savings it is making from reducing expenditure in real terms here. It should plough resources back into our budget.
"The British government should prioritise its commitments to underpin work of any new Executive and support a society emerging from conflict. The British government must recognise that peace does not come on the cheap.
"The EU peace funds and the IFI are a recognition that discrimination, the border and partition and conflict have had a huge impact on the social and economic well-being of our society. It is time that both British and Irish governments recognised their responsibility to address the impact of under funding by successive British administrations and their role in peace building.
"The British and Irish governments need to commit to a significant peace dividend so that any new Executive can effectively address the legacy of conflict and division in our community by tackling inequality, deprivation and under funding. There is inequality and poverty in our society, and both must be eradicated if we are to build on the promise of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement. There can be no more tinkering around the edges." ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President, Pat Doherty MP will give the main oration at the annual Volunteer Martin Savage Commemoration. The Commemoration will take place at 2pm tomorrow Saturday 4th December, opposite Myo's pub in Castleknock, Dublin. The event is organised by the Dublin West Sinn Féin. Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald will also be speaking at the event. ENDS
Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly said today that the decision of a Belfast court to grant bail to a suspected UDA armed robber one day after he was originally remanded, raised again very obvious questions about the judiciary in the six counties.
Mr Kelly said:
" Republicans know only to well the biased and partisan nature of the judiciary in the six counties. That is why we made it an issue in the negotiations which led to the Agreement. That is why we have devoted so much time and energy since the Criminal Justice Review in getting this issue right. Policing and Justice cannot be divorced if we are to create the sort of society we are aiming for.
" Time and again senior and well known UDA figures appear in court receive automatic bail and if ever convicted receive paltry sentences. Contrast this with republicans and nationalists. There are countless cases of people spending years on remand with no prospect of bail. There is no comparison between the severity of sentences handed out to republicans and any other group.
" This well known loyalist receiving bail today is further reminder for ordinary people just how much work we still need to do to transform the current system into a system which nationalists and republicans can have confidence in." ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the report of the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change released earlier today.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "UN reform is a key issue of concern for Sinn Féin. This report is of major importance and we will be studying its 101 recommendations in detail. We will also be publishing a considered position in response in due course. These proposals for UN reform must be fully debated by the Irish people and also in our legislature before the special UN Summit of world leaders decides a programme of action in September 2006. Ireland can and must take a leadership role to ensure that the reforms are progressive and effective.
"I welcome that the report has characterised development as the 'first line of defence for prevention' and appears to have also confirmed that unilateral preemptive action such as the invasion of Iraq is illegitimate in the eyes of the international community. However, we will need to look closely at the detail on Security Council authorisation for preventive intervention.
"Democratisation of the Security Council is another essential ingredient. We will closely consider the two options on the table for Security Council reform.
"It is unfortunate that the report does not provide sufficient detail in the recommendations around increasing UN peacekeeping capacity.
"The wrong formula on any of these issues could make present problems worse." ENDS
Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast and party negotiator Gerry Kelly this afternoon met with US Senators John McCain (Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) in Dublin to brief them on the current state of the political negotiations.
At the meeting both Senators reiterated their willingness to help and urged all of the parties to secure a deal.
Speaking after the meeting Gerry Kelly said:
" This was a good meeting and provided another opportunity to acknowledge the continuing support of the Senators and indeed the US Administration for the peace process.
" I informed the Senators that we have now made our final representations to the two governments and that Sinn Féin is up for doing a deal which is firmly bedded within the Good Friday Agreement.
" The time for doing that comprehensive deal is now." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP and party negotiator Caitriona Ruane today spoke to the media in Belfast after returning yesterday from meetings with the British Prime Minister and senior officials in London.
Mr Adams said:
" Our discussions, particularly over recent weeks and days, have been exhaustive. We have made our final representation to the two governments on their proposals. It is now time for a decision.
" A comprehensive deal is possible. But it can only be done on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement and it cannot be done through a process of humiliation.
" The British Prime Minister has a particular responsibility to impress this on the DUP leader.
" Sinn Fein remains focused on achieving a deal. The work has been done. It is now time for Ian Paisley to decide." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Arthur Morgan T.D. today joined striking Irish Ferries Workers as they protested outside the Dáil. Deputy Morgan has attempted to raise this matter with Minister in the Dáil on a number of occasions, but has been ruled out of order.
Arthur Morgan said, "The situation which has arisen at Irish Ferries is a matter of serious concern. I had asked the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, by way of parliamentary question and standing orders, to intervene as a matter of urgency on behalf of workers at Irish Ferries who had been given only a brief period of time to consider a package which gave 150 workers the option of accepting redundancy or applying for transfer from Wexford to Dublin with no guarantee of retaining existing grade or pay scale.
"The company intends to operate the ferry under a flag of convenience replacing existing management and crew with low paid staff from other states. Time has come for the government to put an end to the practice of ferries and other ships working under flags of convenience where workers are subjected to derisory levels of pay and are left open to exploitation. The restructuring plan by Irish Ferries has the potential to effect almost ten times the number of jobs which are under threat at the moment as there is every chance that they will chose to eventually operate all their ferries under flags of convenience if they think they can get away with it." ENDS