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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has urged the Orange Order to re-assess its attitude to parades through nationalist areas. Offering to meet the leadership of the Orange Order, Mr Adams said that dialogue is the key to mutual understanding and respect and, ultimately, to the resolution of the issue of contentious parades.

Mr Adams call comes after the low key protest at Drumcree and the relatively peaceful Twelfth.

Mr Adams said:

"Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are committed to building a United Ireland in which all sections of the people of this island are comfortable, valued and respected. That includes the significant section of our people who define themselves as British and who identify with Orangism. For this reason, I have always defended the right of Orangemen to march. But this right must be exercised with full respect for the right of others, and in particular, the rights of host communities.

"Those who wish to celebrate the Orange culture must be free to do so but there is no justification for Orange marches taking place where they cause hurt and offence. The reality is that there are areas where Orange marches are regarded as provocative, triumphalist and offensive. The Orange Order do not have to agree with this but should recognise that this is a reality and on that basis should reassess their attitude to parades through nationalist areas.

"At a wider level the Order should review its approach to the nationalist community. Following on from the de-escalation in the Drumcree dispute, the Orange Order now has the space to adopt a new approach which is non-contentious and which is based on dialogue and mutual respect. The Order should begin a process of dialogue with nationalists and republicans to hear and understand their perspective on Orange marches. And, of course, there is a similar responsibility on nationalists and republicans to meet with, listen to and understand the Orange perspective.

" There are only a very few contentious marches each year and we should now set about the task of resolving these through dialogue and agreement. I know that there are difficulties for the Orange Order in all of this but I am available to meet the Orange leadership at any time to facilitate, or as part of, such a process of dialogue." ENDS

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Commenting on the report of the Joint Committee at Westminster into the operation of the Human Rights Commission, Sinn Féin spokesperson on the issue Bairbre de Brún said:

"I would welcome the Joint Committees support for greater resources and powers, particularly investigatory powers, for the Human Rights Commission and its view that independence should be introduced into the appointment of Commissioners in line with the Paris Principles. The Joint Committee also makes reference to the need for the Commission to be representative of the community but also that the principal criteria for appointment should be experience, knowledge and expertise in the field of human rights.

"The report expresses concern at the interference by the then RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan into the work and independence of the Commission and the reaction of the Chief Commissioner to such interference. This is a reference to attempts by Mr Flanagan to prevent he Human Rights Commission involving itself in the Holy Cross case in Ardoyne. Sinn Féin shares the concern of the Joint Committee in this matter.

"The views of the Joint Committee echo those expressed by Sinn Féin and by other organisations and individuals working in the field of human rights that Œdiscrimination has been endemic‚, in the north of Ireland and that Œinstitutional sectarianism still persists‚. Indeed the Joint Committee‚s report reflects the concerns of many that the equality and parity of esteem provisions of the Agreement are being undermined by some from within the Human Rights Commission in their attempts to redefine the Framework Convention on National Minorities.

"With regard to the Bill of Rights, we welcome the recommendation that a round table forum should be convened to drive the Bill of Rights process. This should take place immediately.

"The Human Rights Commission is an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin wants to see the best possible Human Rights Commission in place, one that is truly independent and representative and with the powers and resources to place human rights at the centre of society." ENDS

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Sinn Féin's EU candidate for Dublin Marylou McDonald said: "There are a number of key provisions in the draft constitution which give a clear indication of the drive that is on to create a world superpower out of the EU. These provisions include the evolving relationships between the Union and the Member States; the primacy of EU law and the establishment for the first time of a Single Legal Personality for the EU."

She called on the Irish negotiating team to reject the provisions of the draft constitution that allow for the EU to become a single legal entity and that give it primacy in law over national governments.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs and the EU Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD commenting on the militarisation of the EU and on security and defence issues said: "Sinn Féin has long warned that the EU is becoming progressively militarised, and predicted that developments pointed towards the establishment of an EU army with both force projection capabilities and an internal security function. Some dismissed this as exaggeration. But the provisions in the draft Constitution confirm our prediction. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"We believe that it is the duty of Irish IGC negotiators to protect Irish independence in defence policy, and specifically the traditional policies of military neutrality and UN primacy, by at minimum securing a specific article

explicitly recognising the right of those states requiring a UN mandate for military operations. They must also insist that this be given the same weight of recognition as that accorded to the obligations of NATO states.

"In the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy there are a number of provisions in the draft constitution that represents serious incursions on Irish sovereignty in foreign and defence policy. We firmly oppose the diminution of sovereignty and democratic accountability in relation to foreign affairs entailed in these Articles. Irish IGC negotiators at minimum, must protect Irish exercise of sovereign independence in international affairs by securing an explicit statement that development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the exercise of EU competence in foreign policy shall not result in Members states being prevented from exercising their competence in foreign policy. They must also ensure the retention and strengthening of the unanimity requirement in both spheres of CFSP, which is undermined by proposals in the draft Constitution."ENDS

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Speaking at today's press conference to launch Sinn Féin's initial response to the draft EU constitution the Party's chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin said: "This new EU draft constitution represents a serious challenge for Irish society. It is a test for the Irish government in that it is they who will have to negotiate through the Inter-Governmental-Conference (IGC) not just on behalf of the 26-Country citizens but ideally on behalf of all the citizens on the island.

"Our reading of the constitution leads us to believe that the ongoing process of a developing economic and military superpower emerging will be sped up by ratifying an EU constitution. However, we also recognise that there are some positive aspects to this treaty that must be revisited in the coming negotiations process and fleshed out into better proposals.

"Sinn Fein wants to be in the forefront of the debate on what type of Europe is best for us all. We believe that democracy is built upon the sovereignty of the people expressed in the form of the democratic nation-state. Democracy is best exercised at local and national level. We have a policy of critical engagement with the EU.

"Sinn Féin agrees that the simplification and consolidation of existing EU Treaties is necessary. But we are opposed to such a process being used to diminish sovereignty and increase the power of the EU as the Draft Constitution does. We are opposed to the development of the European Union into a state therefore we do not accept the argument that the EU must have a Constitution.

"Notwithstanding our scepticism about the whole notion of a European Constitution, Sinn Féin believes that it is our responsibility to influence the debate and to ensure that the 26 county Government uses its negotiating position to ensure that those anti-democratic elements currently contained in the Draft Constitution are excised."ENDS

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Speaking following a presentation to the All-Party Committee on the Constitution by the Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (IAVI), Sinn Féin member of the Committee and spokesperson on Housing, Arthur Morgan T.D. accused the IAVI of having no sense of social responsibility.

Deputy Morgan said

"It is clear from the oral presentation which the IAVI made this morning that they have no sense of social responsibility. Their submission attacks the introduction of social and affordable housing and argues in favour of the liberalisation of property markets.

"This organisation used its presentation to the Committee to promote the interests of international investors over and above the interests of ordinary people who can longer afford to buy a house or pay rents in the private rented sector. The public should be aware that the IAVI is promoting the interest of wealthy property owners and has argued that individual landowners and speculators should not, in the interest of disadvantaged members of the community, be deprived of any of the inflated market price which they get for the land which they have hoarded.

"Ordinary citizens who find themselves at the mercy of speculators will be shocked at the IAVI's attitude which it could be argued is very much driven by the grossly excessive profits which their members have been making from rising house prices" ENDS

Note to Editor

Sinn Féin will make an oral presentation of the Party's submission on Property Rights to the Joint Committee on the Constitution in Leinster House tomorrow morning at 10.30am. The delegation will be led by Sinn Féin councillor John Dwyer from Wexford and will include Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and Derry MLA Mary Nelis.

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Sinn Féin will hold a press conference tomorrow, Tuesday 15th July at 11am in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, to launch its response to the draft EU Constitution. Attending the press conference will be party Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and Marylou McDonald, Dublin EU candidate.

Speaking before the press conference Ms McDonald said:

"It is impossible to overestimate the impact of the process of Economic and Monetary Union on ordinary peoples lives. The draft EU constitution if adopted will shape the Ireland, north and south, that we will live in for the next ten years. There is an urgent need for a transparent public debate on the implications of the development of the EU and what it will mean for Ireland and the rest of the world.

"Sinn Féin's document 'Should there be an EU Constitution' is our initial response to the draft Constitution. It is both a critique of the Constitution and also contains many specific proposals - issues which we believe that the Irish negotiators should take on board during the forthcoming discussions."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Vice President and West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty speaking following the launch of the party's submission to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Seanad Reform called for citizens of all the 32 Counties, over the age of 16 years, to be allowed vote in future Seanad elections.

Mr. Doherty said:

"Sinn Féin believes that there is a need for the complete overhaul of the Seanad to make it democratic, accountable and relevant. We propose that it is transformed in terms of its membership, its electorate and what it is responsible for.

"We believe that the Seanad should be elected by universal suffrage of citizens of all the 32 counties of Ireland and those resident here for more than 5 years who are over the age of 16 years. Pending the reintegration of the national territory citizens resident in the 6 counties would cast their ballot by postal vote. Emigrants registered with their appropriate Irish Embassy or consulate would be entitled to vote.

"The main function of the Seanad would be scrutiny of national and EU legislation. Senators should be elected from sectoral panels rather than on a party political basis, with these panels representing the community and voluntary sector, culture and education, regional, industrial and commercial and agriculture and fisheries. In order to address the under-representation of women, quotas of at least 30% should operate across each panel.

"Now is the time to overhaul the Seanad as the second house of the Oireachtas. It is time that it is elected by people from across the island and it is time for its members to be truly representative of the entire country and not elites within it."ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP this afternoon contacted the Irish government asking that they immediately intervene to secure the release of Belfast man Sean O Muireagain, who was arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank at the weekend.

Mr. Adams said that Sinn Féin had also been in touch with the Israeli Embassy in Dublin to voice the party's concern and to call for Mr. O Muireagain's release.

Mr. Adams said:

"Sean O Muireagain is a well known Irish language activist in Belfast and there is a lot of concern among his family and friends at his arrest in the West Bank at the weekend.

"Sinn Féin has been in contact with the Irish government and the Israeli Embassy in Dublin voicing our concern about his arrest and calling for Sean O Muireagain to be immediately released."ENDS

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Commenting on tonight's Panorama programme Sinn Féin MP Martin Mc Guinness said that the scandalous attack on his character has no basis in fact and is entirely without foundation.

Mr Mc Guinness said:

"The substance of Panorama's programme is entirely false. My legal representatives have already been in contact with the programme makers and have refuted in the most forthright terms these groundless allegations. I am now considering my legal options in this regard.

"This type of political bias and black propaganda targetting of Sinn Féin in general and the Sinn Fein leadership in particular has stretched back over many years and comes as no surprise to Irish Republicans. But in the context of the Peace Process, in which Sinn Fein has been central, the motivation for this type of black propaganda has to be questioned by responsible journalists." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin today released the party's recent submission to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Seanad Reform. In it Sinn Féin describes the Seanad as it is currently constituted as "fundamentally undemocratic and elitist". It calls for it to be reformed so that it would "afford a role for civic society, and provide for fuller representation of all sectors of society in the legislative process".

Among the main recommendations are that:

· The Seanad would be elected by universal suffrage of citizens of the 32 counties over the age of 16 years.

· Emigrants would be entitled to a vote

· The Taoiseach would not be entitled to nominate to the Seanad

· Senators would be elected from Sectoral panels rather than political parties

· The elections would be by Proportional representation

· The main function would be scrutiny of national and EU legislation

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Sinn Féin has put forward these proposals because we want the creation of a reformed, democratic, transparent, accountable and relevant second house of parliament. We need a forum that will provide for the fullest possible representation of all sectors of society in the legislative process. We need to move beyond party politics so that the second house is not just a duplication of the Dáil." ENDS

An Inclusive Seanad - Sinn Féin submission to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Seanad Reform June 2003

Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Summary of recommendations for reform of Seanad

3. Composition of Seanad

4. Nomination Process

5. Functions of Seanad

6. Summary of recommendations of functions of Seanad

1. Introduction

Sinn Féin believes that the Seanad as it is currently constituted is fundamentally undemocratic and elitist. It duplicates the role of the Dáil. Sinn Féin envisages the creation of a reformed, democratic, transparent, accountable, and relevant second house of parliament.

Sinn Féin envisages a democratically elected Seanad which would afford a role for civic society, and provide for fuller representation of all sectors of society in the legislative process.

Beyond Abolition

In examining options for reform of the Seanad, we re-considered as a first option the abolition of the Seanad. This option was rejected on the basis that one house does not adequately represent all sections of the Irish population and a second house could be constituted so as to represent those not adequately represented in the Dáil.

Sinn Féin believes that it is beneficial for the democratic nature of government to have an upper and a lower house of parliament in that it provides a system of checks and balances on government legislation and policy.

Beyond Party Politics

The option of a national list system, as recommended in the 7th Progress Report of the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution was also considered. Arguments in favour of this option included that it would allow all parties to present themselves as an option nationally thus benefiting smaller parties who would not necessarily have the resources to run in all constituencies. The argument was also made that a benefit of this method of election would be that it would be non-clientelist.

The national list system was rejected on the basis that it would not involve a radical reform of the Seanad, would not provide for greater representation of civic society and would result in a Seanad which would in its composition be a duplication of the Dáil.

A new beginning

Sinn Féin asserts that the Seanad should be elected on a sectoral panel system. There are a number of advantages to this system. It would be radically different in composition to the other house of parliament i.e. the Dáil, thereby ensuring that civic society and specifically those marginalized in society, would have a role in the legislative process. An outline of our proposal for a Seanad elected on a sectoral panel system follows.

2. Summary of recommendations for reform of Seanad

· The Seanad would be elected by universal suffrage of citizens of the 32 counties of Ireland and those resident therein for more than 5 years who are over the age of 16 years. Pending the reintegration of the national territory citizens resident in the 6 counties would cast their ballot by postal vote.

· Emigrants registered with their appropriate Irish Embassy or consulate would be entitled to vote.

· The election would not take place on the same day as the Dáil election.

· There would be no provision for nomination by An Taoiseach.

· Senators would be elected from sectoral panels rather than on a party political basis.

· Election would be by proportional representation single transferable vote on each panel.

· The main function of the Seanad would be scrutiny of national and EU legislation.

3. Composition of Seanad

The current system is legislated for under the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act, 1947 and the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act, 1954.

Sinn Féin proposes a Seanad based on a sectoral panel system elected by universal suffrage of citizens of the 32 counties of Ireland and those resident therein for more than five years, who are over the age of 16 years.

The Seanad is currently elected by an undemocratic limited franchise panel system and the panels are constituted as follows:

· Cultural and Educational

· Agriculture Panel

· Labour Panel

· Industrial and Commercial Panel

· Administrative Panel

There are also reserved seats for those elected by graduates of certain third-level institutions.

Sinn Féin proposes retaining a 60-member assembly. The outline of panels would be as follows

1. Community and Voluntary Panel (including geographical communities and communities of interest)

2. Cultural and Educational Panel (including but not limited to arts, language, sports and students organisations)

3. Local and Regional Panel (for example representatives of community councils as recognised under Better Local Government, regional bodies etc.)

4. Labour Panel

5. Industrial and Commercial Panel

6. Agricultural and Fisheries Panel

In order to address the under-representation of women, quotas of at least 30% would operate across each panel.

4. Nomination Process

All organisations who seek accreditation as a nominating body must apply to a 'Seanad Panel Accreditation Committee' before they can nominate a person to stand in the appropriate panel. It should be open to all bodies, other than political parties, to apply for such accreditation. An organisation would have to seek accreditation at least six months prior to an election.

Guidelines for accreditation would be laid out in legislation i.e. amendments to the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Acts.

Each nominating body would only be permitted to nominate one person to one panel.

Arguments will be made by opponents of this system that it is cumbersome, however we contend that it is possible to overcome these difficulties. Any difficulties arising are far outweighed by the democratic and inclusive benefits of the sectoral panel system.

5. Functions of Seanad

Sinn Féin envisages that the main role of the Seanad would be scrutiny. It would scrutinise draft domestic legislation and furnish reports to the Dáil, including specific recommendations for amendment, withdrawal, further consultation, impact assessment, fast-track progress, etc.

It would be responsible for checking legislative proposals against the constitutional and other rights of citizens, and also against Ireland's international obligations.

Sinn Féin proposes significant changes to current legislative stages. Prior to consideration by the Dáil, all proposed legislation would first pass scrutiny by the Seanad, to be known hereafter as the 'Seanad Stage'.

All legislation would pass through the following stages:

· First Stage Publication (Dáil)

· Seanad Stage (Seanad) ? see below

· Second Stage Debate (Dáil)

· Committee Stage (Dáil)

· Report Stage/ Final Stage (Dáil)

The new "Seanad Stage" would include a community consultation process. Following this consultation, the Seanad would debate the bill and consider amendments. At the conclusion of this Stage, the Seanad would agree the amendments it would recommend to the Dáil.

The Seanad would have a responsibility to equality-proof and human rights-proof proposed legislation.

The Seanad could recommend withdrawal of legislation.

The Dáil must take cognisance of the Seanad Report when debating the bill in Second Stage, and subsequently.

If the Government ignores the Seanad recommendations, this could be grounds for a no-confidence vote. The President can also use this as a reason to refer legislation when presented.

The Seanad would have the right to question Ministers on legislation.

The Seanad would also scrutinise proposed European legislation and furnish reports to the Oireachtas including recommendations for amendment, withdrawal, further consultation, impact assessment, fast-track progress, etc.

The Seanad would have the ability to permit MEPs to attend and speak, without voting rights, at Seanad debates on European issues or on legislation resulting from the transposition of EU directives.

Legislation which needs to be amended: 1947 Act (sections 33 & 43) Seanad Electrol (panel members) act 1954

6. Summary of recommendations on functions of Seanad

· The main role of the Seanad would be scrutiny.

· The Seanad would be required to furnish reports to the Dáil on all legislation it has scrutinised, including the equality-proofing and human rights-proofing of all legislation.

· Significant changes to current legislative stages would be necessary.

· The Seanad would have the right to question Ministers.

· The Seanad would have the ability to permit MEPs to attend and speak.

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Sinn Féin Press Office

Leinster House

Tel: (353 1) 618 4276

Fax: (353 1) 618 4210

Email: [email protected]

For immediate release ˆ July 11th, 2003

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Natural Resources Martin Ferris TD has questioned the benefit of the potentially massive oil find at the Dooish Well off the North West coast. Deputy Ferris was speaking following the announcement that the find could be worth as much as €10.4 billion.

Deputy Ferris said:

"At the present time, such a find would be of almost no benefit to the people of Ireland. I say this because of the scandalous conditions that apply to multi-national exploration companies such as Shell who operate here. Almost uniquely in the world, this Government has no stake in any oil or gas find, and the companies pay no royalties. When one looks at the benefits which have accrued to states like Norway which have maintained some control, the differences are stark.

"A number of years ago former Energy Minister Frank Fahy said that if oil were to be found in the Rockall Basin then the state would consider changing those terms. In the light of this find, I would call on him and other members of this Government to do just that. Otherwise, the vast wealth from our seas will be taken up, shipped abroad, and we will be left with nothing". ENDS

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Sinn Féin is today formally opening its new office in Galway City. The official opening is being performed by the party's Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD. Speaking at the event, Deputy Ó Caoláin said Sinn Féin is the fastest growing party in the West of Ireland and "offered the only real alternative to the failed polices of the establishment parties who have let down the people of the West".

As he was in Galway, the home of the Irish language TV station TG4, Deputy Ó Caoláin also took the opportunity to call on the British government to live up to its Good Friday Agreement commitments to make the television station accessible to all areas of the Six Counties saying it was a matter of "equal rights" for Irish language speakers. He also called for the British government to urgently establish a properly resourced Irish language TV and radio fund for the Six Counties. He said:

"The opening of the new Sinn Féin office in Galway is another demonstration of the accelerating growth of our party throughout the 32 Counties. In the last three years Sinn Féin in County Galway alone has developed from three cumainn to ten. That growth is matched throughout Cúige Connacht.

"The people of the West of Ireland continue to be sold short by the Fianna Fáil/PD government. Like successive administrations they have failed to decentralize economic development from the east and south. Health services are in crisis as witnessed by the closure of Tuam Hospital. The transport infrastructure is totally inadequate and our natural resources like Corrib Gas have been virtually given away to multinational corporations.

"People quite rightly feel cheated by the broken promises of the FF/PD government. While many people have become disillusioned with politics as a result, many have also become more politicized and are looking to Sinn Féin for leadership. We are determined to provide that leadership as we work towards the unification of our island and our people and the building of an Ireland of Equals."

Speaking in relation to the funding of Irish language TV and Radio production the Cavan/Monaghan TD said that "here in Galway TG4 has shown tremendous innovation and ingenuity from the very start and they are to be commended for their consistently high production values and output. It is clear that direct funding from the Irish Government has played a crucial part in this. However, I would like to take this opportunity to address the situation regarding funding for Irish language TV and radio production in the Six Counties and indeed the promises to make TG4 accessible to all areas of the north. The British Government has not lived up to its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement in this regard. This is a question of equality and parity of esteem. They need as a matter of urgency to establish a properly resourced Irish-Language fund for TV and radio production in the Six Counties as well as making TG4 accessible so that the growing body of Irish language speakers there can access this important media source through their native tongue. This isn't about special rights and entitlements for Irish language speakers - this is about equal rights." ENDS

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Reacting to the proposals announced this evening by Minister Seamus Brennan to break up Aer Rianta into three companies for Cork, Dublin and Shannon, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Transport Seán Crowe said it was 'a massive backward step, which will end up seriously damaging the island economy'.

Deputy Crowe said:

"Just a year ago when he took on the Transport brief Seamus Brennan claimed that he had no ideological position on privatisation but everything he has done in office since then has shown the opposite to be true. It is bad enough that he is ramming privatisation through at CIE and now Aer Rianta. What is worse is that in each case there has been little real discussion and no worker consultation. It makes a mockery of the partnership process.

"Aer Rianta is a profitable company, so profitable that the Government is looking for a 20% dividend on the E36 million net profit made by the company last year. Dublin Airport was one of the three highest growth airports in Europe and one of only seven of the top twenty European airports to report annual growth in the year ending October 2002. It has encouraged the development of Shannon Airport by spending more than 60 times per passenger promoting Shannon than Dublin Airport.

"As a state depending on its ability to import and export for economic prosperity, efficient management of the transport infrastructure is a priority. It is clear that there are flaws in the how airports are managed and run in Ireland but break up and privatisation is not the solution. This strategy will fail. It will cost jobs and damage the economy

"We want vibrant, dynamic well run public sector companies that will benefit all of the economy not private sector concerns driven by short term profits and little focus on the bigger picture. Aer Rianta should be growing into an all-Ireland company with greater focus on developing regional air facilities, not be carved up for a fire sale"ENDS

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Sinn Féin Councillors Alex Maskey and John O‚Dowd this morning launched an anti-racist charter for local councils and their members to sign up to. This initiative follows an increasing number of violent racist attacks in recent times and is an attempt to present a united political front to challenge those involved in these attacks.

Cllr. Maskey said:

"In recent times there has been a marked increase in the volume of racially motivated attacks, particularly here in Belfast and in parts of Upper Bann and in the activities of various right wing groupings. Those of us in political leadership have a responsibility to challenge this directly.

"This charter does not pretend to be a solution to these attacks or this activity. But we hope that it can become part of a political response to the upsurge in racism we are experiencing at this time.

„"Political parties have to make it clear that there is no place in our society for the sort of racism and intolerance which has sadly been on the increase.

"The Good Friday Agreement is about creating a tolerant and peaceful society, not simply for nationalists, republicans, unionists or loyalists but for all who live here.

"Sinn Féin will continue to meet with and engage with ethnic minority communities across the island and we will continue to confront and challenge racism from whatever quarter." ENDS

Anti-Racism Charter for Councils and Members

Preamble

This Council and its elected members who are signatories to this charter undertake to ensure that it‚s day-to-day activities are conducted in such as way that they do not incite hatred or prejudice on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, religious or political belief, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or membership of the Traveller community.

The Council and its elected members agree:

To send a consistent and clear message to their constituents that racism cannot be accepted or tolerated.

To challenge publicly and actively, any campaign materials or statements which incite hatred or express any form of prejudice on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, religious or political belief, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or membership of the Traveller community.

To ensure that all debates which bare reference to any groups or individuals who may be potential targets of racism, such as Minority Ethnic groups, Asylum Seekers, Refugees, Immigration Detainees and Migrant Workers, are conducted in a responsible way and with respect to the dignity and rights of all.

To use appropriate and inclusive language when referring to people of different Ethnic backgrounds.

To sign the following Declaration on Anti-Racism.

Declaration on Anti-Racism

As a member of this Council, I reaffirm:

Its commitment to work for the benefit of all in our constituency to enjoy equal rights and to be treated with equal respect regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, religious or political belief, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or membership of the Traveller community.

Its commitment to working for, and maintaining a community free from intolerance on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, religious or political belief, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or membership of the Traveller community.

Its commitment to publicly challenging all forms of racism and to work with our constituents to eliminate it from our society.

Council condemns racial intolerance in any form as incompatible with our basic human rights and right to equality.

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Sinn Féin Spokespersons on Agriculture and Rural Development Martin Ferris TD and Assembly Member Gerry McHugh have called on the British and Irish Governments to conduct a joint approach to the implementation of the CAP reform proposals agreed in Luxembourg on June 26. They have also called on the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to initiate a consultation process similar to that taking place in the 26 Counties.

Deputy Ferris and Mr McHugh said:

"We welcome the decision of the Department of Agriculture in Dublin to initiate this consultation process. Sinn Féin will be presenting our detailed proposals which will outline how we believe the reforms can be made work in the best interests of all Irish farmers. However, it is also vital that similar packages are implemented on both sides of the border. Otherwise, the current problems presented by having two separate administrations over such a vital sector will be made even worse.

"To avoid this, we are calling on both Governments to consult closely and to ensure that whatever decisions are reached will be complementary and of benefit to the majority of farmers in both areas. We note that Minister Pearson has claimed that he secured what he termed 'regional flexibility' for the Six Counties in the Luxembourg Agreement. We now call on him to go one step further and to recognise that that 'region' is in fact the island of Ireland, and that a common approach needs to be taken to the problems facing agriculture on the whole of this island". ENDS

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Sinn Féin Upper Bann representative and equality spokesperson Dr. Dara O'Hagan is meeting with officials from the Office of First Minister/Deputy First Minister today, to discuss the ongoing review of the Equality Commission. Speaking in advance of the meeting Dr O'Hagan said:

"Today's meeting is part of a series of meetings that Sinn Féin is having with the Equality Commission and OFM/DFM. We will be raising a number of concerns about the Equality Commission and the manner in which the equality agenda is being dismantled.

"The establishment of the Equality Commission was a cornerstone of the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin had argued for a dedicated Equality Department and Ministry within the Executive. Instead the Equality Commission was established and charged with driving and implementing that agenda.

" Five years on we have identified that the Commission, by its own deficiencies in management, in decisions it has taken and by dint of the fact that it has not fully exercised its powers or been adequately resourced, is not sufficiently impacting on the deep rooted inequalities that exist within our society.

"A review of the Equality Commission is currently being undertaken under the auspices of OFM/DFM. I will be raising a number of issues with officials from OFM/DFM including the fact that elected representatives and stakeholders from within the equality constituency were not notified that this review was taking place.

"The Commissions monitoring systems are deficient. As public representatives we have experienced ongoing difficulties in terms of soliciting information from the Commission about the categories of cases affected by their decision to withdraw assistance or refuse to grant funding for legal cases. This demonstrates that some five years on, the Commission has not put in place adequate monitoring systems to track the impact of decisions it takes as a Commission, never mind the impact of discriminatory practices by others.

" Sinn Féin is of the view that the Review Team should also be examining the role of OFM/DFM which has a responsibility to monitor the effectiveness of the Equality Commission. This review needs to be pro-active and include stakeholders in the Equality constituency to elicit a range of views, otherwise the review will be looked on as a white wash.

" Sinn Féin along with many others who work in the equality field, has serious concerns that a minimalist approach to equality is being adopted by the Commission and its parent department, OFM/DFM. Indeed there are fears that modest gains made are being rolled back. This is not acceptable. Equality remains a central plank of the Good Friday Agreement. Five years on we should be further along the path to eradicating discrimination and inequality." ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment and anti-Sellafield campaigner Arthur Morgan T.D. has travelled to France in an attempt the link the nuclear reprocessing plant, COGEMA La Hague, with the campaign to have Sellafield shut down.

Speaking from France, the Louth Sinn Féin T.D. said

"COGEMA La Hague in North West France has been contributing to the contamination of our coastline with radioactive material since it entered service in 1966, in the same way that radioactive emissions from Sellafield has been contaminating the Nordic countries. It is clear that even if Sellafield was closed COGEMA La Hague would represent a continuing threat to our people's health. For this reason I have travelled to France to see at first hand the monster that is the source of the pollution.

"With 5,500 employees COGEMA La Hague is a much lager plant than Sellafield yet people in Ireland have very little awareness of the risks that this nuclear reprocessing plant poses to their health. I have come here to highlight those dangers and in attempt the broaden the anti-Sellafield campaign to include the closure of COGEMA La Hague.

"Officials here play down the dangers posed by the plant in much the same way as those at Sellafield, however they have admitted to me that they don't know what is going to happen to the waste they have produced.

"I am particularly concerned that a waste pipe from this plant goes 4 km out into the sea, posing serious dangers particularly to the South East Coast of Ireland.

"The Government must recognise the dangers from this reprocessing plant in North West France and target it as well as Sellafield". ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the ESRI forecast of a serious economic downturn and further job losses, as well as the UN report showing the level of inequality in this State, exposes the failure of the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats economic strategy. He said the ESRI report also vindicated the demand for fundamental reform of the legal profession with a view to reducing costs.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The ESRI report shows up the failure of the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats economic strategy. They failed to use the unprecedented economic upturn of the past six years to rebuild our infrastructure and greatly increase social provision, as they could have done. As a result our inadequate infrastructure is contributing to the economic slowdown, while the failure to tackle social and economic exclusion means we have the highest level of poverty in the western world outside the US, as shown by today's UN report.

"The ESRI report also vindicates the demand for fundamental reform of the legal profession. Instead of making access to the profession more equitable and reducing costs, the government has concentrated solely on advertising. Once again they have failed to tackle a privileged sector of Irish society and the ordinary citizen is paying the price." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has called on the BBC to ensure that this years coverage of the Twelfth Parades is 'for the first time balanced and impartial'.

Ms Gildernew said:

" Each year the BBC spend the publics money presenting live coverage of the annual Twelfth parades. In this programme the parades are presented as some sort cultural festival. No mention is made of the political nature of the event and the paramilitary displays by the many of the bands present are conveniently ignored by the commentators.

" The BBC need to get real. TV license money should not be spent promoting Orange parades in an unbalanced fashion. If they are going to present live coverage of the Twelfth this year then they should ensure that for the first time it is at least balanced and impartial." ENDS

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