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Latest Statements

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


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Sinn Féin Dublin Sinn Féin Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan, has today welcomed, "the latest developments in the battle to get mobile phone companies to engage with communities."

Cllr. Doolan outlined:

"Following a major public meeting last night, it was agreed to launch a citywide campaign to ensure that mobile phone companies consult with local communities before any masts are installed. For too long residents are the last to find out and their concerns go unaddressed. Last night's meeting heard residents from across Dublin demand that the government amend legislation to ensure companies can no longer simply move in and erect a mast with out notifying anyone. We are very worried about the side effects of these masts, yet no one even bothers to address these genuine concerns. Evidence has been presented which seriously challenges the safety of these masts, yet no one has to answer these allegations.

"We intend to take this campaign all the way to the government, Ministers can no longer ride rough shod over people's rights and feel they are immune from residents anger. The campaign will be coordinated across Dublin and then we hope build a national alliance. The days of excluding residents are over''

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan, demanded the government, "to review the legislation that makes public and commercial buildings exempt from planning permission when installing mobile phone masts." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Arthur Morgan T.D. today raised the issue of legislative deficiencies in respect of the management of apartment complexes with the Minister of State responsible for Housing Noel Ahern.

Deputy Morgan asked the Minister if he accepted that inadequate legislation in respect of the management of apartment complexes in the private sector (including in the community and voluntary sector) is a serious matter, which must be addressed as a matter of urgency given the growing number of such developments particularly in the Dublin region.

Deputy Morgan said, "There is the same necessity to regulate the management of apartment complexes as there is for regulating the private rented sector.

"If apartment living is to become a viable option for the future, people need to be assured that the management companies of such complexes will be accountable and that they will be protected against extortionate management fees.

"Will the Minister and his Department commit to carrying out an assessment of the problems related to the management of apartment complexes? Will the Government commit to acting on any recommendations for the Law Reform Commission?

In reply to Deputy Morgan‚s question the Minister of State with responsibility for Housing Noel Ahern T.D. said that a Law Reform Commission Working Group was currently examining the law in relation to management of apartment complexes and other multi-unit developments and that the Law Reform Commission has suggested to the Company Law Review Group certain modifications in the application of general company law requirements to management companies for multi-unit developments

Following his questioning of the Minister, Deputy Morgan said, "There are serious problems in relation to the management of apartment complexes that need to be nipped in the bud. It is disappointing that the Minister in his reply would not commit to carrying out the neccessary assessment of the problems related to the management of apartment complexes." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP along with senior negotiator Martin McGuinness MP, party Vice President Pat Doherty MP, Michelle Gildernew MP, Conor Murphy MP and Mary Lou McDonald MEP will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair tomorrow, Thursday 19th May, in Downing Street.

Sinn Fein will hold a Press Conference tomorrow at 12 noon in the Jubilee Rooms at the British House of Commons.

There will a briefing for the Foreign Press Association at 2.30pm at 11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1 given by Gerry Adams, Conor Murphy and Mary Lou McDonald

There will be a briefing for US correspondents at 3pm in Room W 2 at the British House of Commons given by Martin McGuinness, Michelle Gildernew and Pat Doherty.

The Sinn Féin delegation will meet the British Prime Minster at 4.30pm in Downing Street.

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Sinn Féin Dáil Group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed today's debate in the Seanad on the proposed EU Constitution but said that the decision not to invite MEPs from the Six Counties was short-sighted particularly given the fact that all of Ireland will be voting on this issue in referenda, north and south.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "The proposed EU Constitution will have profound consequences for all of Ireland and it is vital that people across the island are included in the debate. Today's debate in the Seanad is very welcome but the decision not to include MEPs from the Six Counties was short-sighted particularly given the fact that all of Ireland will be voting on this issue in referenda, north and south.

"Sinn Féin believes that the potential benefits of an all-Ireland approach to the EU are immense particularly in terms of agriculture, economic development, infrastructure and structural funding. It makes sense that all 16 MEPs on the island debate the way forward together.

"It is also time for the Irish government to move ahead with their commitment to facilitiate Northern representation in the Oireachtas, something advocated by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution." ENDS

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Speaking in response to the derogatory comments of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Conor Lenihan regarding Turkish migrant workers in the Dail today, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus O Snodaigh TD said:

"The Minister of State's comments were disgraceful, and it is only right if he subsequently withdrew them. I should also expect him to issue a public apology to Turkish people and others of Middle Eastern origin living and working and paying taxes in Ireland, as well as a formal apology to the Turkish Ambassador.

"Of course, racist jokes are not funny, and racist comments are never acceptable on the part of public representatives. Yet this kind of behaviour continues - largely without sanction from party leadership. What we need is for all the political parties to educate their membership from top to bottom about the obligations we are all under having signed up to the Anti-Racism Protocol for Political Parties, and also to enforce the obligations through disciplinary procedure. I urge the Taoiseach to respond with his view of this.

"I wish I could express surprise, but this is not the first such serious lapse of judgment from this Minister of State, who I earlier criticised when he disparaged Ireland's development organisations for advocating on behalf of the world's poor.

"What else can we expect from a Government whose Minister for Justice and Equality not only doesn't believe in equality, but actually believes that inequality is good." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed this mornings publication by Trócaire of its research into the impact of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). And the Sinn Féin leader has urged the Irish and British governments to lead by example and move quickly to honour the commitments they made five years ago at the Millennium summit on issues around debt, aid and trade.

The Trócaire report, 'More than a Numbers Game? - Ensuring that the Millennium Development Goals address Structural Injustice', confirms that what is urgently needed is for all of the 189 governments, but especially the developed nations, who signed up to the Millennium Declaration five years ago to keep to the commitments they made then.

At that time world leaders agreed achievable goals for development and poverty eradication to be achieved by 2015. These also included halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, increasing the availability of safe drinking water and improved education provision for children.

However, Trócire's report, as well as others by the United Nations, show that most countries are falling behind these targets.

Urgent action is needed to reverse this trend. This means in particular the cancellation of the enormous burden of debt suffered by developing nations.

It also means ensuring the provision of more aid, better targeted and sustained. In addition the world trading system has to be reformed. It places poorer nations at a distinct disadvantage to the larger nations, as well as to the huge multi-national corporations. Globalisation prioritises profit over human need and sacrifices the poor and vulnerable on the altar of the marketplace.

If money used to pay off foreign debt were 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.

Trócaire's report is an important contribution to the necessary debate around efforts to end these injustices." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams this morning led a party delegation Michelle Gildernew and Gerry Kelly to meet with the US Special envoy Mitchell Reiss in Belfast.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Adams said:

"We welcomed the opportunity to meet with Mr. Reiss and brief him on the current situation. From our discussions I am confident that the US administration remains committed to the peace process and to playing a constructive role in support for efforts to rebuild it.

"Tomorrow we will be in London to meet Mr. Blair. Sinn Féin is intent on achieving the re-establishment of the power sharing Executive, the political institutions and the all-Ireland Bodies. I told Mr. Reiss that while we all await the outcome of the IRA's internal discussion, others have responsibilities also - not least the British and Irish governments and the DUP. Sinn Féin is determined to rebuild the peace process.

"We want to resolve all of the outstanding issues. This will require a collective effort to move it forward. It will particularly require the British government to demonstrate to the DUP a determination to push ahead with the implementation of those aspects of the Agreement, demilitarisation, equality, human rights, collusion, Irish language policing and justice, irrespective of that party's attitude to the political institutions."

The Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams also took the opportunity to brief Mr. Reiss on the situation in the Basque country. Mr. Adams was there several months ago and met the President of the Basque region Mr. Juan Jose Ibarretxe and the leader of Batasuna, Arnaldo Otegi.

" It is our view that an opportunity exists to make progress in that situation and yesterdays vote in the Spanish Parliament, and the outcome of the recent elections in the Basque country, are further evidence of that." ENDS

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that 'the need for reform of the welfare system reopens the debate about the role of women within society in general'. Ms McDonald made her comments after attending a protest organized by the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) calling for reform of the Social Welfare system.

Those calling for reform of the system delivered letters to the Minister for Finance outlining their concerns.

Speaking after the protest today Ms McDonald said:

"Women continue to suffer discrimination and inequality with Irish society. Women suffer disproportionately in the workplace through unequal pay with their male counterparts, are more likely to fall into the poverty trap, suffer as a result of physical, sexual and psychological abuse and many rural women continue to be disadvantaged resulting from a lack of services and a sense of isolation.

"Today's protest by the NWCI sought to highlight the inherently unequal social welfare system in this state, and in particular the need for women to have an independent entitlement to income. Reform of the welfare system is necessary if we are to adequately address poverty and inequality, which disproportionately affect women.

"The need for reform of the welfare system reopens the debate about the role of women within society in general. Last month Sinn Féin launched a Women's Document designed to address many of these core issues." ENDS

Sinn Féin will campaign for:

. Introduction of a system of paid parental leave

. Unpaid caring work to be legally acknowledged, measured and paid for in economic terms

. A renewed focus on preventative healthcare and significant increase in resources for health and social services

. Government funded childcare facilities and government subsidies for employers wishing to provide facilities on site

. Mainstream funding for all frontline and community services which support women and children affected by violence

. All-Ireland initiatives to eliminate gender differentiation and promote the development of a wider range of educational and career choices for girls and young women

. Rights based guidelines for pension policy to reflect the differential labour market position of women

. The development of a local services and information infrastructure to cater for the health, welfare and social needs of rural communities

. Targets and timescales to be set for achieving equality of representation for women in all aspects of public and political life

. Equality of outcome in employment, education and training

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD today welcomed the fact that missing correspondence between the Irish and British Governments in relation to the review of the investigation into the 1991 assassination of Donegal County Councillor Eddie Fullerton by Loyalists had resurfaced after queries from Sinn Féin.

However Deputy Ó Snodaigh was also critical of the Minister for Justice for refusing to answer his other direct questions in relation to the case in the Dáil today.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I welcome the news that a request for information and cooperation from the Irish to the British Government in relation to the assassination of Eddie Fullerton has now resurfaced following my having raised the matter with the Minister last month.

"However I am sure the Fullerton family will share my disappointment that the Minister for Justice refused to answer my other questions as to when the request was originally forwarded by the Irish Government and, now that it has been officially received, when we can expect a response from the British authorities.

"Eddie Fullerton was an elected representative of the Irish people. He was a well-known and well-respected County Councillor in Donegal. There are serious questions that need to be answered surrounding the circumstances of his assassination - not least the role British agents may have had in it and the manner in which the original investigation was carried out.

"It is therefore all the more unacceptable that the Minister for Justice today refused point blank to release the contents of the interim Garda report into that investigation, categorically stated that he will not publish the final report, and moreover that he refused to give a reason for this decision following a direct question from me. Such an attitude can only fuel public concern and suspicions about what the Irish and British authorities might have to hide in relation to this case."ENDS

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Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil this afternoon Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, described as "provocative" the threat by the Health Service Executive to withhold payments due to nurses and midwives under the Sustaining Progress agreement. He called on the Government to instruct the Executive to withdraw the threat and to resume engagement with the Irish Nurses Organisation immediately.

Questioning the Minister for Finance, who was standing in for the Taoiseach today during Leaders Questions, Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "The Health Service Executive is to withhold payments due to nurses and midwives under the Sustaining Progress agreement and under benchmarking which fall due on 1 June 2005." And asked, "What is the Minister's view of this provocative action? Is he aware that this decision has led to the threat of industrial action by nurses and midwives?"

He went on to call on the Government to „instruct the Health Service Executive to immediately withdraw this threat and instruct them to resume engagement with the Irish Nurses Organisation on the healthcare assistant training programme and to provide for further discussion, involving the relevant regulatory bodies and stakeholders, to resolve the remaining issues as quickly as possible."

Pointing out that 181 people were on trolleys in A&E departments yesterday, Deputy Ó Caoláin commended the nurses and midwives for their "Enough is Enough' campaign which he said „has won widespread public support and which has highlighted the dire situation in Accident and Emergency units, an ongoing crisis which persists despite commitments from the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children to ensure substantial improvements." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, South Down MLA Willie Clarke has said that the increases in the cost of processing planning applications will particularly damage rural communities.

Mr Clarke said:

"The way that the planning service is operating at the moment is creating huge difficulties. They are long delays and particularly in rural areas there is widespread concern at the impact of current policy of maintaining viable rural communities.

"Sinn Féin these increases will make it even more difficult for rural communities to survive and thrive.

"Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for rural families to be treated more sympathetically by planners and have voiced concerns at the impact of the draft area plans will have in holding back rural development.

"At present rural communities are being decimated, the populace is no longer being allowed to live on the land due to the restrictions that have been placed on single dwellings in the countryside. Genuine families are being punished because of multi applications of greedy property speculators. Provision must be made for people who want to live in the countryside.

"Rural community plans have to be put in place where the community decides what it requires and needs developed in partnership with all the statuary agencies. If single dwellings are to be restricted, then we must provide the development of sympathetic hamlets, along with all the necessary services. The people's voices must be heard if we are to halt the demise of sustainable rural communities.

"These inflation busting increases will further damage rural communities in particular." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Human Rights and Equality Spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane has said that Sinn Féin are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of British ID cards. Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Féin are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of any voluntary or compulsory British ID card. Proposed Westminster legislation would involve creating a UK-wide database holding information on individuals such as names, addresses, and biometric information like fingerprints, facial scans and iris scans by 2008.

"Under the Good Friday Agreement people in the North have the right to Irish or British identity (or both). Far from being an effective tool for anything, these cards would undermine not just civil liberties but also fundamentally the right of people living in the north to their Irish identity. Should Irish citizens in the North have to carry such a British ID card or there is there any basis for the British government have the right to hold biometric and other information on Irish citizens?

"The costs would also be considerable, individually and possibly to our overstretched local budget.

"The track record of the British government on delivering any similar computerised scheme, for example such as the Tax Credits system, has already proven to be deeply flawed. I wouldn't trust the government to introduce this measure in a sensible confidential manner. Any system the government has introduced involving technology in the past few years has been shambolic.

"Also within the context of a deeply divided and sectarian society the opportunity for authorities here to abuse a database of this nature and the ability of agencies such as the PSNI to use such information or ID cards to discriminate against nationalist is huge.

"The argument that this will tackle fraud is bogus. We heard these arguments when the British government introduced new electoral legislation that resulted in thousands of nationalists and young people being disenfranchised. People who fall through the system will become truly excluded and marginalised from society." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler has today said that his party will "call on the British government to appoint an administrator to run Lisburn council if there is no change in council practices after this week's council AGM".

Speaking today Councillor Butler said:

"Sinn Féin will call on the British government to appoint an administrator to run Lisburn council if there is no change after this week's council AGM. The Irish government will also be asked to back our proposals and to push the British on this issue.

"I am calling upon the other political parties on Lisburn council, the SDLP, Alliance and UUP to join with Sinn Fein to block the DUP's politics of exclusion. Jeffrey Donaldson will lead the DUP into Lisburn council with the sole intention of turning the council into a unionist fiefdom dominated by the DUP. The other parties on the council should not breach the principle of inclusivity or be involved in any sordid side deals with the DUP which will exclude the largest nationalist party on the council - Sinn Féin.

"Tomorrow's AGM will test whether or not the DUP is really committed to sharing power with nationalists. At present there is no evidence that the DUP is willing to share power. Sinn Féin will step up its campaign against Lisburn Council if it is once again excluded from council positions.

"We are calling upon the British government to appoint an administrator to run the council until they bring in legislation that makes it binding on councils like Lisburn to have in place power sharing arrangements and other checks and balances to curb discrimination in relation to council services and facilities. The Irish government should also raise this with the British government and call for legislation to bring about power sharing in local government.

"Lisburn council has been a bastion of unionist discrimination in the North. Nationalists living in this borough have experienced at first hand this systematic practice of discrimination." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew speaking after Sinn Féin submitted its response to DARD's Nitrates Directive Consultation has said that farmers are being poorly served by the department.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Farmers are being poorly served by the department. They are being expected to start this process without knowing what the cost of the measures will be to them. This is unacceptable and timetables should be revised to coincide with a definite decision on the exact levels of grants.

"Sinn Féin's policy towards waste management is to support a 'zero waste' strategy, where reduction, reuse and recycling of waste is at the core of an effective strategy. We believe that it is important for the agricultural sector to be included in this strategy. However, while Sinn Féin is supportive of the principle that the polluter should pay, we are aware of the unique position of family farms, which not only produce our food, but also act for us as guardians of the countryside. It is clear that many family farms are simply not in a position to absorb the extra costs and remain economically viable. Nevertheless, the issue of farm pollution cannot be ducked.

"In terms of financial support, it is unacceptable for DARD to impose a tight timetable on the implementation of measures, while not having secured permission to provide a 60% grant. Sinn Féin MLAs, MPs, TDs and MEPs have been lobbying the EU strenuously to ensure an increase to the permitted grant.

"Sinn Féin is disappointed at the disjoint between these regulations and the development of renewable energy policy. The use of renewable technologies such as anaerobic digestion should be an integral part of agricultural waste management, and not seen as a separate issue. The consultation document on renewable energy promised for early 2005 has not yet materialised. Sinn Féin believes that reuse of agricultural waste in the form of fuel should be an important part of nitrate management, and that it should be part of the overall strategy.

"Farming organisations have proposed alternative action programmes which they believe will allow EU regulations to be met. It is incumbent upon the Department to commission independent scientific research on issues such as shortening the closed period, shortening the distance of organic manure spread from waterways and reducing the slurry storage period, to ascertain whether or not EU limits can be met using these alternative actions. If these actions are found to be capable of meeting requirements, then they should be implemented.

"In summary, while recognising that problem requires urgent attention, Sinn Féin believe the timetable should be amended to ensure that:

· There is a firm decision on grant levels

· A renewable energy strategy is included in the measures

· There is a scientific assessment of proposed alternatives

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly and Michelle Gildernew MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone will meet the US Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss tomorrow morning at 8.00am at the US Consul General's residence at Shaw's Bridge, Ardnavally, Belfast.

The Sinn Féin delegation will be available to speak to the media directly after the meeting.

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Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has travelled to London today to ensure that 'there is a clear focus on the united Ireland agenda and on the need to rebuild the peace process'. Mr Murphy made his comments at the official opening of the British Parliament today.

Speaking from London Mr Murphy said:

"Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are here today to ensure that there is a clear focus on the United Ireland agenda and on the need to rebuild the peace process. Irrespective of the brief mention which this issue receives in today's Queen's speech, Tony Blair has made it clear that the issue of peace in Ireland and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement are a priority for his government in the time ahead. Sinn Féin are prepared to test that commitment.

"We have met with representatives of the two governments in recent times and will tomorrow meet with the US Special envoy Mitchell Reiss before Gerry Adams leads a party delegation to meet with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday.

"The British government has a key role to play in implementing the Good Friday Agreement and in bringing the peace process to a successful conclusion. That is the most immediate challenge facing all of us. Sinn Fein wants to do business with the representatives of unionism but if they refuse to engage they cannot be allowed a veto over progress. Key elements of the Good Friday Agreement do not require co-operation from the DUP.

"Progress on equality, human rights, collusion, the Irish language, demilitarisation, justice and policing are all entirely the responsibility of the British government and we will push the British government for early movement on all of these important issues."ENDS

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Newly elected Westminster MP Conor Murphy and Dublin MEP, Mary Lou McDonald will be among the speakers at the Sinn Fein Convention to nominate a candidate to represent the party at the next General Election in Dublin North East. The Convention is being held this Wednesday, May 18th at the Shieling Hotel in Raheny at 8.00pm.

Following on the performance of the party's Local Election candidates last summer, in which Councillor Killian Forde secured over 3,300 first preferences in Donaghmede Ward and Councillor Larry O‚Toole secured the second highest vote of any candidate in the State, with over 4,400 votes in Artane, Sinn Fein feels that it is on the verge of an historic victory in this three seat constituency.ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin Sinn Féin Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan, has today called on, "mobile phone companies to respect both local communities and Dublin City Council's demand that they consult with local communities before any further installations take place here in Dublin."

Speaking ahead of a public meeting tonight, Cllr. Doolan said:

"As mobile phone companies continue to install phone masts across Dublin local communities and their concerns are being ignored. This must stop immediately. Tonight‚s meeting hopes to address this situation. It will demand that companies engage with this community before any more installations take place. Residents must be fully consulted with and must have their concerns fully and adequately dealt with. This can only be done when companies engage with these communities.

"3G have erected a mast in a residential community here in the south inner city without any consultation at all. It took days of phone calls and messages to even find out if the installation took place. This is totally unacceptable. The aim of the meeting is to co-ordinate a campaign which will be lead by the residents demanding to be heard. The concerns are genuine and deserve to be addressed immediately. We will no longer be ignored by these companies.

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan, demanded mobile phone companies, "to listen to our concerns and work with communities to overcome them."ENDS

'Stop the Phone Mast' public meeting, 7:30pm, Whitefriar Street Community Centre, Aungier Street, Dublin 8.

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Our approach to the EU

The European Union is a more dominant force than ever in the political, economic and social life of Ireland. The Sinn Féin delegation has a policy of critical but constructive engagement with the EU.

This means we decide to support or oppose the many and complex developments in the EU each on its own merits. We have supported EU and other Europe-wide measures that promote and enhance human rights, equality and the all-Ireland agenda. These measures are an example of the EU at its best, promoting a basic level of rights protection in all member states. But we have also never been afraid to stand up against EU measures that are damaging to Irish interests.

We want to build a Europe of Equals - a true partnership of equal sovereign states, co-operating in social and economic development in Europe and beyond. We want an EU that promotes peace, demilitarisation and nuclear disarmament and the just resolution of conflicts under the leadership of a reformed, renewed and democratised United Nations. Ultimately, we want a future United Ireland to take an active, leading role in such a reformed EU.

We are a campaigning party. We work with others who share our political vision to effect social change. Consistent with our republican agenda at home, Sinn Féin's Agenda for Change at EU level involves actively campaigning for:

  • an independent Ireland of Equals in an EU of Equals
  • an EU that respects and promotes national, collective and individual rights (including human, political, social, cultural and economic rights)
  • an economically and socially just EU, not an EU that is merely another economic superpower
  • a demilitarised and nuclear-free EU
  • a globally responsible, fair-trading EU that leads the way on reaching the Millennium Development Goals for halving global poverty by 2015

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Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has called for the amendment of the remit of Waterways Ireland to include responsibility for the Ulster Canal.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Lack of political will is holding up the reopening of the Ulster Canal. What is required is for one body to take forward this initiative in consultation with local communities, councils and business organisations.

"The all-Ireland implementation body Waterways Ireland is the perfect organisation to administer the renaissance of the Ulster Canal.

"The rejuvenation of small towns along the Shannon can be mirrored here if we have the political will to get behind the ever growing number of organisations and committees who see the value of reopening the Ulster Canal.

"A large scale all-Ireland project such as this would be a real boost to the people of Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Monaghan.

"We have seen that call from Monaghan County Council and the vote on Fermanagh Council supporting the demand to have the remit of Waterways Ireland adjusted to include the Ulster Canal and the setting up of the Ulster Canal Trust last November in Monaghan with the emphasis on making progress on re-opening the canal.

"Here in Fermanagh the Clones-Erne East Partnership will be meeting with the Blackwater Association to build a co-ordinated response on behalf of local communities.

"Anything that economically strengthens communities along the border has to be welcomed. If this project goes ahead there will be real economic and community benefits." ENDS

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