Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Latest Statements

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


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West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty says that the failure by Adria owners Quantum to be up front with the workforce in Strabane in relation to the 200 pending job losses has compounded the feelings of shock and anger in the community.

After talking to workers and Union representatives at the factory today (Friday) Mr Doherty said, "The very least that Quantum management owe to the loyal workforce of Adria is to be open an honest. Instead the company has treated the workforce shabilly to say the least.

"Speculation has been rife for weeks about the imminent announcement of up to 200 job losses.

"However, workers are totally devastated to have to find out on the news about these redundancies. This is despite the fact that just last week, Quantum were denying to me, through Invest NI, that any redundancies were imminent.

"Now in the absence of any official announcement workers are having to endure an agonising weekend wait to find out if they will be among the expected 200 redundancies to be announced early next week.

"They are now also facing the prospect of meagre redundancy terms following indications from management that Quantum do not operate the same redundancy package for workers as did the former owners Adria.

"Quantum must live up to its obligations to its workforce not only in terms of redundancy packages that is inherited from the previous owners but to being open and honest with is remaining workforce." ENDS

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Speaking from Meath today, Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has reiterated the demand for the Department of Transport and the Department for Regional Development to honour the Common Chapter commitments to deliver an All Ireland Development plan vis-à-vis road safety, improving the road infrastructure.

Mr McCartney said:

"In the light of the EuroRap - the EU Road Assessment Programme report launched this week; it is obvious that this country needs an All Ireland Transport Strategy that deals with improving road safety, rural - urban interconnectivity, environmental impacts to decrease emissions and to develop a 21st Century multi-modal network that can significantly reduce dependency on the motor car.

"The Cross-Border impact of this study has been well highlighted by the Minister responsible for Transport, Martin Cullen and Dr.Malcom McKibbin, the Chief Executive of the DRD Roads Service. I am calling on both Governments to seriously look at the post-Good Friday policy context and redress all the issues outlined in the report, to plan, implement and deliver the All Ireland strategy this relatively small island should have in place.

Raymond McCartney expressed his concern at the Minister's lacklustre remarks in relation to the introduction of 2+1 road programmes.

"The continued use of 2 + 1 roads, from a road safety perspective, is a dangerous substitute for dual carriageways. Both Road Agencies, the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the Roads Service NI must take more than a friendly stay in touch approach to devising an overarching transport plan.

"The EuroRap report suggests that 80% of accidents are attributable to low - medium risk road networks. These 2 + 1 capital works projects are an excuse for not putting in place the type of infrastructure that is required throughout urban and rural Ireland.

Working as part of the Sinn Fein electoral team to assist with Meath County Cllr. Joe Reilly's By-election, the Sinn Fein spokesperson commented on the impact of transport on all communities.

"I am amazed to see so much construction in Meath; the problems facing the people of Meath are not dissimilar to those facing people all over the country. The infrastructure must be planned to incorporate building communities and catering the needs of the disabled, children, commuters, tourists and all transport users." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP is travelling to the US tomorrow to carry out a extensive series of engagements. Mr. Adams will be in Washington DC, New York and Ohio. Speaking before his departure Mr. Adams said "My message in the United States next week will be very clear - I will be asking those who have supported the peace process and Sinn Féin's role in it, to continue that support so that the task of re-building the peace process can begin." Mr. Adams is in County Meath today where he is campaigning with the party‚s by-election candidate Joe Reilly.

Mr. Adams said:

"For more than a decade now Irish America has played a valuable role in the peace process. When opponents of change were lined up against progress, they intervened in the interests of peace. Next week I will be asking them to do so again. I will be speaking directly to those who have supported the peace process and Sinn Féin's role in it. I will be briefing them on the grave difficulties that the process faces at this time and also outlining the contribution that republicans are willing to make to get the process back on track.

"The peace process is the only way forward but we have to be realistic. The only aspect of the process, which currently exists is the IRA cessation. There are no political institutions, no dialogue, no plans to implement the outstanding aspects of the Agreement.

"If we are to move out of this deepening crisis, then the starting point has to be genuine dialogue between the parties and the two governments. That is the message that I will be bringing to the US next week." ENDS

Itinerary

Saturday, March 12
5:45 PM Friends of Sinn Féin Reception - Cincinnati, Ohio
7:15 PM Friends of Sinn Féin Community Event - Union Hall, Local 392 Plumbers Cincinnati, Ohio

Monday, March 14
7:45AM Council on Foreign Relations Breakfast - New York City
12:00PM Friends of Sinn Féin Luncheon - New York City
4:45PM Transport Workers Union Local 100 - Annual James Connelly Reception New York City
7:30PM Friends of Sinn Féin Reception - New Jersey

Wednesday, March 16
4:00 PM Meeting with Mitchel Reiss at State Department Washington DC
6:30 PM America-Ireland Fund Dinner, Washington, DC

Thursday, March 17
8:00AM Friends of Sinn Féin Breakfast - Washington, DC
3:00 PM National Press Club - Washington, DC
4:30 PM Senator Kennedy - Washington, DC
5:30 PM Friends of Ireland/Ad Hoc Committee - Washington, DC

Friday, March 18
1:00PM John Carroll University (Speech) - University Heights, Ohio
6:00 PM Friends of Sinn Féin Reception - Mayfield Heights, Ohio

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will accompany Councillor Joe Reilly as he casts his vote today, Friday 11th, in the Meath by-election. Councillor Reilly will cast his vote at 2pm in O'Mahony's, Brews Hill, Navan.

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Sinn Féin councillor Joe Reilly has described news that local authority service charges had risen by ten times the rate of inflation in the last three years as "astonishing" and further confirmation that this Government was engaged in "slight of hand economics" and was "hell-bent on screwing people for every penny they can."

He went on to say that the increase in Health service charges by almost six times the rate of inflation was "evidence that access to healthcare is becoming increasingly dependent on ones ability to pay."

Councillor Reilly was responding to the latest consumer price index published today. He said, "These latest figures are astonishing. While consumer price inflation itself is running at a fairly modest 9.8% over the three year period the inflation in local authority service charges was running at over 100%.

"It is now abundantly clear that the Government is engaged in slight of hand economics. While claiming to operate a low tax economy, they are at the same time hell-bent on screwing people for every penny they can through double taxation and levies. This is the least equitable way of raising taxation. It is not based on ones ability to pay.

"What is also very worrying from this report today is the news that inflation in Health service charges is running at six times the rate of inflation. This is evidence that access to healthcare is becoming increasingly dependent on ones ability to pay." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Conor Murphy speaking from London has said that the decision to remove allowances from Sinn Féin's four MPs is as predictable as it is undemocratic.

Mr Murphy said:

"Republicans were challenged to take our analysis to the electorate. We did so and as a result Sinn Fein is the largest pro-agreement party in the north and the third biggest party on the island of Ireland. The response of the establishment, North and South, is to move the goal posts and introduce undemocratic sanctions against Sinn Féin, which are based on unfounded allegations.

"It is no surprise that the British parliament should attack and discriminate against an Irish republican political party which challenges it right to rule part of our country.

"The decision today is a further attack not just on Sinn Féin and our political mandate but also on the people we represent.

"Sinn Fein will continue to resist all attempts to disenfranchise Sinn Féin and the hundreds and thousands of people we represent. We will continue to argue and promote Irish reunification and will continue to represent people from communities marginalised by the establishment." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillor Killian Forde has expressed his anger at the news that the privately run AerDart service, linking Howth Junction DART Station and the Airport, is to be closed with the loss of nine jobs. The service which is due to finish on the 20th of March is closing, according to the company, due to the falling passenger numbers caused by the closure of the DART at the weekend.

Cllr Forde said:

"This service has proved invaluable for air passengers and workers getting to the airport. One worker, who contacted me this morning, will now have to take a DART into town and a bus back out to the airport to get to work adding on an extra 45 mins to her daily commute. There is a lot of annoyance that this service is ending.

"The ending of this service highlights the dangers of privatising bus services. They only remain viable as long as profits remain high and can be scraped at a moments notice.

"The suspension of the weekend DART services is temporary. The company that runs the AerDart service - ComfortDelGro - is a multi national company with deep pockets - the least they could have done was respect the customers that paid money to them for the past four years and stick with the service for the next three months until the DARTs are back running at the weekend.

"The irony in this is that Dublin Bus will not be able to replace this service because they have been refused extra funding for new stock until they open up their bus routes to private operators. It is an unbelievable situation.

"I will be writing to the Minister for Transport asking him not to consider the ComfortDelGro company for any new bus route when the DART reopens at the weekend. I will also be pointing out the very real danger that bus privatisation causes and urging him to immediately release the money for the 150 buses we were promised in 2001." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking on the last day of canvassing in the Meath by-election said "A vote for Joe Reilly and Sinn Féin in this by-election is a vote for Meath, a vote for the peace process and a vote for a united Ireland. As we prepare to go to the polls I want to appeal to all voters to come out and vote and to vote for Sinn Féin and to transfer to Sinn Féin. "

Mr. Adams said:

"The establishment parties have failed to deliver for Meath in this time of prosperity. Meath has become a residential commuter belt, which lacks basic services and infrastructure such as hospitals, decent educational facilities, integrated transport including a rail link to Navan and childcare. And for almost 30 years these same parties have been robbing the most vulnerable people in this society.

"A vote for Joe Reilly is an alternative to all of that. Councillor Joe Reilly is by far the most active and experienced representative in this contest. A vote for Joe Reilly is a vote for the peace process and for a united Ireland. A vote for Joe Reilly is a vote for Meath.

"As we prepare to go to the polls I want to appeal to all voters in this by-election to endorse this work - to vote for Sinn Féin and to transfer to Sinn Féin."ENDS

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Speaking during statements on the Travers Report in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD said, "The Minister for Health and Children has tried to shift all the responsibility onto the shoulders of the civil servants. While senior civil servants clearly cannot be exonerated, it is beyond question that the primary responsibility rests with Ministers who are supposed to be accountable to the Dáil and to the people."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say that, „This report has exposed executive failure on a huge scale and over the space of nearly 30 years. The buck stops on the desk of every Minister for Health since 1976 and every Cabinet since then must share collective responsibility."

He concluded by saying, "People should not tolerate any diminution of health and social services as a result of the ineptitude and the neglect of successive Governments. We will strongly oppose any such penalising of people in need. It must not be allowed to happen. The Government must look elsewhere for this revenue, whether by borrowing or otherwise, but do not let it compound this very serious situation by punishing those who depend most on the health and social services." ENDS

Full text of contribution of Caoimhghin O Caoláin to Statements on the Travers Report

"The Travers Report is a massive indictment of successive Governments and successive Minister for Health since 1976. It is also an indictment of the ethos within the senior management of the Department of Health over the same period.

"The present Minister for Health and Children has tried to shift all the responsibility onto the shoulders of the civil servants. While senior civil servants clearly cannot be exonerated, it is beyond question that the primary responsibility rests with Ministers who are supposed to be accountable to the Dáil and to the people. Ministers are elected by the Dáil to exercise executive functions. This report has exposed executive failure on a huge scale and over the space of nearly 30 years. The buck stops on the desk of every Minister for Health since 1976 and every Cabinet since then must share collective responsibility.

"We are expected to believe that the former General Secretary of the Department, Michael Kelly, was a chief culprit in all of this and that, as a result, he has been penalized by being moved out of the Department. But the Government has moved him to another senior and very well-paid position as the full-time chairperson of the Higher Education Authority - despite the fact that an OECD report recommended an extensive public recruitment campaign for this position. If the Government considers this civil servant culpable why did they not take steps to dismiss him as they are empoweres to do? If he was not culpable or negligent why was he moved or required to move at all? Does the Government fear that a dismissal, if it were challenged in open court, might further expose the responsibility of Ministers for this debacle?

"Who in particular does the Government hold responsible? If all senior civil servants in the Department over nearly 30 years were responsible then no-one was responsible. Yet this is going to cost billions. Even in the smallest GAA club in the country, if funds are misappropriated or mismanaged the treasurer has to take responsibility for what happened on his or her watch. The treasurers in this case were successive Ministers for Health. But it is harder to get a camel through the eye of a needle than it is for a member of the political elite in this State to accept responsibility and to abide by the consequences, up to and including resignation or dismissal.

The Travers report concludes:

"Ministers should insist on full and periodic briefings on key issues of policy and operational performance."

"If Ministers did not do this in relation to the illegal charges it is a scandal. If they did so then we are not being told the truth about the knowledge of successive Ministers for Health and Children.

"This report describes the illegal charging of people in care as being the result of 'long-term systematic corporate failure". It beggars belief that this could have continued for almost thirty years. It also beggars belief that successive Ministers for Health and Children failed to take action over the lack of legal basis for the charges.

"The Report could not be clearer when it states that the Department of Health and Children undertook many reviews of the charging practice over the years from 1976 to 2004 and ALL of them concluded that the legal basis for the charges was, at the very least, uncertain and should be rectified by the introduction of amending legislation.

"The Report concludes that a solution to this problem was readily available through the introduction of a simple legislative amendment. Why was this course of action not taken?

"Even more disturbing are the wider implications of this report for the running of the health services in this State over the last three decades. I want to highlight what I consider a very important conclusion of the Report and one that has received little attention so far. This goes to the heart of why all of this was allowed to continue for so long. The report makes findings about why it took from 1976 until 2004 for the Department of Health and Children to request legal advice from the Attorney General. Among the underlying reasons it finds:

'A strong desire to protect what was regarded as an important source of 'own income‚ by the health boards as a means of protecting the provisions of essential health services in a system widely regarded as being under-funded.'

"The import of that statement is very serious. Underfunding of the health services by successive Governments contributed to the belief that the illegal charges as a source of funding for health boards should not be threatened. It was judged better to continue to charge people illegally than to take the necessary decisions to increase revenue for the health system, to reform it and to organise public services on a more equitable and efficient basis.

"What does that tell us about the mindset within the political and civil service management of the health services? It can only be described as ad hocery, a reckless disregard for the future, a vista that saw only as far as the end of a term of office. As a result of that short-sightedness the State's finances will now face a huge challenge to meet the bill for repayment.

"The Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance have both stated that this massive bill will directly effect the overall health budget in terms of a negative impact on the future provision of services. Let us make one thing very clear. People should not tolerate any diminution of health and social services as a result of the ineptitude and the neglect of successive Governments. We will strongly oppose any such penalizing of people in need. It must not be allowed to happen. The Government must look elsewhere for this revenue, whether by borrowing or otherwise, but do not let it compound this very serious situation by punishing those who depend most on the health and social services."ENDS

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Sinn Féin today presented their objection to the granting of an EPA license for Indaver to manage and operate an incinerator at Carronstown. The presentation was headed up by Mary Lou McDonald MEP and Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD and was attended by Meath by-election candidate, Joe Reilly. Their presentation highlighted the need for careful consideration of health and environment issues and the fact that this has clearly not been the case up to now.

Speaking after the presentation, Councillor Reilly said, "Sinn Féin is committed to standing by the community in Carronstown and Duleek. We went into the oral hearing to set out the grounds for our objection to the granting of the license to Indaver. The key elements of our objection were the environmental and health impacts of the proposed incinerator and the issue of non-compliance with a number of EU directives. A number of specific areas of neglect were also highlighted such as the lack of adequate monitoring equipment.

"The incinerator proposed for Carronstown has the potential to detrimentally affect the health and quality of life of residents in the vicinity of this proposed plant. The people of Carronstown and Duleek have the right to the highest standard of air quality and to an unpolluted environment. This right is not being upheld. Under the license, as issued, there is no requirement for the company to notify residents in the area in the event of a major disaster. There is no baseline information available in terms of health and environmental risks for people who live close to incinerators.

"The EU directive 96/61/EC transposed into Irish law in 2003 significantly strengthens the regulatory framework for environmental protection. It is our contention that the issuing of the license is in contravention of this directive. We put this to the EPA and it was not refuted nor was it challenged by indaver representatives present.

"The only safe solution is to postpone the introduction of incinerators in to Ireland." ENDS

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Speaking at an election rally in Navan last night Gerry Adams, Uachtaran Shinn Féin told the more than 300 election workers in attendance that "The message coming across loudly on the doorsteps is that the people of Meath want change." In an optimistic mood, Sinn Féin candidate for the Meath by-election Councillor Joe Reilly said, "Sinn Féin can win this seat."

Mr. Adams said, "The message coming across loudly on the doorsteps is that the people of Meath want change. They are no longer prepared to sit and wait for the establishment parties to address the pressing issues of roads, hospitals, incineration, schools and childcare facilities.

"They want public representatives who will work and not merely talk on their behalf, and they know that Joe Reilly is 'a walker and not a talker' with a proven track record as a public advocate. For this reason the people in Meath will vote Joe Reilly no.1 on Friday March 11th."

Also speaking at the rally Councillor Reilly said, "The latest polls have shown that Sinn Féin is on 14.9% of the vote. But, although this shows a great increase in our support, what we have to remember is that traditionally polls underestimate our vote. Previous polls have told us that people like, Pat Doherty, Seán Crowe, Martin Ferris and Mary Lou McDonald would not be elected. So make no mistake Sinn Féin can win this seat." ENDS

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Speaking during Private Members Time in the Dáil this evening on Unfinished Housing Estates, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Arthur Morgan, blamed the 'cosy relationship' between the Government and 'greedy' property developers for the problems faced by many people in new housing estates that are unfinished by developers.

Deputy Morgan said, "The failure of the Government and local authorities to act on this issue is inextricably connected with the detrimental, cosy relationship that exists between the government parties and developers, which has resulted in an unwillingness to take on greedy and unscrupulous developers.

"Builders and developers regularly fail to complete work on common areas within housing development. The main problems centre around footpaths, road surfacing and road marketing, drainage, landscaping and builders rubble being left on site when builders depart.

"This is a particular problem effecting the commuter belt and the counties surrounding Dublin, such as Louth and Meath where new housing estates are being hastily built with little care for the quality of life of these who will end up living in these estates.

"A number of particularly bad cases in County Meath have been brought to my attention by Cllr. Joe Reilly, who after battling this at local authority level for some time asked me raise the issue in the Dáil.

"For example, Springfield Glen in Navan is a development of 45 houses. The developer is currently reported to be in New Zealand. Roads footpath and public lighting have all been left incomplete. The developer deposited a bond with the local authority of €38,000. Conservative estimates suggest that it will cost €200,000 to complete the housing scheme.

"There is a clear trend whereby the local authorities have not sought adequate bonds from developers. If adequate bonds were sought, the developers would have no incentive to walk because their bond would not be returned to them by local authority until the development has been completed in accordance with planning approval.

"This issue must be addressed. People cannot simply be abandoned in unfinished housing estates nor should cash strapped local authorities be forced to cover the cost of remedial works while greedy developers pocket huge profits on the back of the hardships faced by householders in these estates." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, speaking in the Dáil this morning said that "parents of children with special needs, especially children with autism, are deeply disturbed and distressed by the plight of a family, which has made national headlines recently."

Deputy Ó Caoláin was referring to the case of a couple from County Meath who had their five children, four of whom are autistic, taken in to care by the Health Service Executive. He said, "It seems that the children were taken from the family in question by the Health Service Executive last weekend because the family had clearly indicated to the media that it was finding it difficult to cope in the absence of State support and resourcing."

The Cavan/Monaghan TD asked the Taoiseach if he realised that "many thousands of families throughout the State are now afraid to highlight openly the difficulties they are wrestling with."

"The Taoiseach should not doubt that this is a serious matter," he said. "The parents of children with special needs are struggling to cope because they are facing the difficulties and challenges which were encountered by the family I mentioned, which is now facing a terrible vista."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say "There has not been any substantial change since the publication in October 2001 of the report of the task force on autism. That report claimed that the State 'is critically unable to meet the needs of children with autistic spectrum disorders in Ireland'."

He called on the Taoiseach to agree that, "the Government is duty-bound to rectify the disgraceful neglect of decades and to provide these children and their families with all the resources they need. The State's response, by way of the provision of resources, must be in the critical service areas of education, therapeutic support and respite. It must also provide all the other supports that are needed. Instead of heaping blame on families for spelling out the reality and truth of their circumstances, will the Government and State not take their responsibility seriously?" ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for Newry and Armagh and Assembly Group leader Conor Murphy will (Thursday 10th March) travel to London tomorrow.

Mr Murphy will be available for one on one interviews with the media from 12 noon at the Millbank Studios in London regarding the debate in the British House of Commons to remove the party‚s Westminster allowances.

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Sinn Féin senior negotiator Gerry Kelly MLA has today repeated the party's call for the killers of Robert McCartney to come forward and for witnesses to provide the information necessary to secure convictions.

Mr. Kelly said:

"Yesterday's IRA statement should have removed any concerns witnesses might have still had about coming forward.

"It is a positive development and clear evidence of the wider republican desire to see those responsible for the brutal murder of Robert McCartney brought to justice.

"The IRA has ordered those involved in the killing to give a full account of their actions; it has made it clear that witnesses should come forward and provide any information they may have; and it has spoken directly to a number of key witnesses and given them assurances on their safety, and has provided assurances again through an independent third party.

"All of this is very important as pressure is maintained to bring the perpetrators to court." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has described the Travers Report as a massive indictment of successive Governments and of the ethos within senior management of the Department of Health and Children.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "This report describes the illegal charging of qualifying people in care as the result of 'long-term' systematic corporate failure". It beggars belief that this could have continued for almost thirty years. It also beggars belief that successive Ministers for Health and Children failed to take action over the lack of legal basis for the charges.

"The report concludes that a solution to this problem was readily available through the introduction of a simple legislative amendment. Why was this course of action not taken? This is but one of the many questions that the present Minister for Health and Children should answer in the Dáil this week.

"Even more disturbing are the wider implications of this report for the running of the health services in this state over the last three decades. The report highlights how under funding of the health service by successive Governments contributed to the belief that the illegal charges as a source of funding for health boards should not be threatened.

The report concludes that, "Ministers should insist on full and periodic briefings on key issues of policy and operational performance. If Ministers did not do this in relation to the illegal charges it is a scandal. If they did so then we are not being told the truth about the knowledge of successive Ministers for Health and Children." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin reacting to the announcement that Paul Murphy will block financial assistance to Sinn Féin's Assembly team has 'Paul Murphy has no right to discriminate against democratically elected Irish politicians'.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Paul Murphy has no right to discriminate against democratically elected Irish politicians. He has no mandate here in Ireland. The people of Ireland elect us and we are accountable to them. We reject these anti-democratic actions by a British government against an Irish political party. This is an act of discrimination against the people who vote Sinn Féin.

"We will fight this discrimination politically, legally and through an ongoing campaign of democratic resistance. We will go to the nationalist and republican people in elections in May.

"The IMC upon whose report this action is based is not independent. It has no credibility. It is the tool of the securocrats whose stated aim is to prevent the further growth of Sinn Fein and the further development of the peace process.

"The British government has no right to act unilaterally if this is a partnership arrangement. More importantly, the Irish government has a duty to defend the rights of Irish people and their political representatives." ENDS

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Sinn Féin representative for Fermanagh Bernice Swift speaking in support of Motion 223 said "The current efforts to end the crisis in the Peace Process, underline the need for any Truth Process to be about learning the lessons of the past so as not to repeat them. A good start would be for the British Government to publicly acknowledge its primary institutional responsibility and to initiate processes for examining its own culpability."

Ms Swift said:

After 3 decades of conflict and 10 years of the peace process, there is now increasing discussion in Ireland about a Truth Recovery process and how it could be structured.

The current efforts to end the crisis in the Peace Process, underline the need for any Truth Process to be about learning the lessons of the past so as not to repeat them.

A good start would be for the British Government to publicly acknowledge its primary institutional responsibility and to initiate processes for examining its own culpability.

When challenged with the TRUTH the British response has always been denial, concealment and cover-up, when presented with irrefutable facts, it lies, loses files, destroys evidence, frustrates inquests, gags the media and issues public interest immunity certificates.

Revelations about Collusion the true nature of Britain's dirty war in Ireland politicises people and undermines British claims to legitimacy, The British would like to introduce a British truth process which would pin the blame on republicans, absolve themselves, end Inquiries and draw a line under the past.

Are we really to expect a British Government to agree to a Truth Process, which would most likely indict senior British politicians, past and present of complicity in the murders of hundreds of people on the island of Ireland?

Sinn Fein fully supports the genuine search for Truth, Acknowledgement, Healing and Closure for the victims and their families.

Sinn Fein has a progressive position on Truth which we can advance with confidence.

In the document we launched in September 03, we called for a focused discussion amongst all the relevant parties, it is crucially important that any agreed process would be independent , International and with NO hierarchy of victims and which examine the role of all the parties to the conflict, including that of the Judiciary, State Institutions and Media.

We have greave concerns about how the British Government is approaching this matter. The NIO claims to be engaged in some form of consultation YET NO Victims groups have been consulted and just this week the Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced the appointment of a Victims Commissioner and his seeming rejection of an independent Truth Process without any consultation? Paul Murphy highlights the whole contradiction in this entire process. In Sinn Fein's view this underlines the need for a completely independent process.

Sinn Fein is not being prescriptive with regard to the issue of Truth Recovery nor are we attached to any particular model of truth recovery, however, as previously stated in the Ard Chomhairle motion, we believe 2 things must now happen if this discussion is to be advanced: 1. The British Government must acknowledge its role in creating and maintaining the conflict in Ireland 2. It must then sit down with all other relevant parties to agree a credible independent body to facilitate a process of truth recovery.

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Sinn Féin policing Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly, commenting on the announcement that 2,100 unsolved killings are to be examined, has said that many cases involving collusion between British state agencies and unionist death squads could be solved if the British government open up the files of British military intelligence and the special branch.

Mr Kelly said:

"The real test of Hugh Orde commitment to addressing these issues is whether he opens up the files of Special Branch and British intelligence which were responsible for organising, arming, resourcing and directing unionist death squads in a state policy of political assassination and terror.

The PSNI, British intelligence and the British state at its widest level continue to cover-up state involvement in the deaths of hundreds of Catholics, nationalists and republicans. Only yesterday we again saw the use of Public Immunity certificates to hide the role of a special branch. The British state continues to hide evidence as was clearly exposed in their approach to inquiry into the Dublin/ Monaghan and the Bloody Sunday Inquiry." ENDS

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Sinn Féin candidate for the Meath by-election, councilor Joe Reilly has said that Noel Dempsey "has proved the point that Meath needs change." He said that "Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have had their chance to deliver for Meath and both have failed.

Speaking this morning he said "Last night Minister Dempsey admitted that one of Meath's biggest problems is the lack of infrastructure. This is an amazing statement coming from a Meath TD who has had three ministerial posts in the last two Governments. In saying this he is admitting the Government's failures. If a Fianna Fáil Minister from Meath cannot deliver for Meath in two terms of Government then why should the people of Meath elect another Fianna Fáil TD.

"In relation to road tolls Minister Dempsey said that those who do not wish to use the new motorway can use the old N3. Does he mean that the people who cannot afford to use the new motorway, due to the tolls, should go the long way to Dublin? Is this the opinion of the Fianna Fáil candidate? He has proved the point that Meath needs change.

"Fine Gael is quick to point out that Meath needs change, and they are correct. But the fact is that they have had their chance too. The county has been split between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for over ten years now and in that time the county has become a residential commuter belt with insufficient facilities. Major infrastructural and transport issues have become worse, its backwards we are going instead of forwards.

"Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have had their chance to deliver for Meath and both have failed. Its time for radical change. Sinn Féin is offering that change, we are offering the people of Meath an alternative to the failed conservative policies of the establishment parties." ENDS

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