Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the Government plan was for "bureaucratic change not fundamental reform of the health services with real delivery for patients". He said the plan could not succeed in delivering improvements for patients unless the two-tier public-private system was ended.
Deputy Ó Caoláin has been a member of the North Eastern Health Board since 1999 and said the removal of all elected representatives would mean "less accountability and more centralisation". Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"This is not a plan for real and fundamental reform because it fails to end the two-tier public-private system which creates virtual apartheid in our health services. While new bureaucratic structures are being set up, public patients will continue to suffer and die on waiting lists, hospital beds will remain closed and 200,000 people will be left without the medical card cover promised them by the Government before the last General Election. The Fianna Fáil promise to end hospital waiting lists within two years has now been consigned to history.
"This is a plan for bureaucratic change but it is being done at the expense of accountability. Elected representatives on health boards had a very minor role but they could scrutinise the delivery of health services on behalf of ordinary citizens. That role of accountability is now going. The planned centralisation is especially bad for areas outside the large urban centres.
"The proposed creation of a National Health Services Executive is an exercise inpolitical expediency. The Government wants to shift responsibility from the Minister for Health and Children and his Department to such an Executive which would not be directly answerable to the Dáil for its decisions. Combined with the exclusion of elected representatives from the new structures, this is a blow to democracy.
"A key reform needed is the renegotiation of consultants contracts - this was supposed to be delivered by end of last year under the Government's so-called Health Strategy but the Government has failed to meet this commitment. We are told that this will be addressed in the yet unpublished Hanly Report but it is ominous that the Report was not launched with today's reports. There is no sign that this Government wants to challenge the power without accountability wielded by the consultants' representative bodies. On the contrary, it appears that their power will be enhanced in the new structures.
"The Government has had six years to come up with health service reform. If this is the best they can do after all that time, and after the ongoing delays in the implementation of the 'National' Health Strategy, then the problems of our health services are set to continue and worsen in the time ahead." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today visited the offices of Limavady
District Council and was received by the Mayor Anne Brolly. Sinn Féin
Councillor Anne Brolly is the first woman and the first republican to hold
this post in Limavady. Speaking at the event the Sinn Féin President said:
" Last year Alex Maskey made history when he became the first Sinn Féin Mayor of the City of Belfast. A few short weeks ago Anne Brolly in an equally historic move became the first woman and the first republican to hold the Mayoralty in 0 this borough. But as Alex Maskey demonstrated, achieving these positions, historic as they are, is not enough. It is about what you do when in office. It is about the contribution you can make. Sinn Féin Councillors in these positions have a number of very basic guiding principles:
* Fair Play
Sinn Féin will seek to use these positions to advance the work already being done to bring the different and diverse sections of our community closer together. Our Councillors, our Mayors and our Chairs wish to build bridges across which people can walk towards each other. Despite the recent difficulties in the peace process, we are in a new era as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. We are now in a new era here in Limavady where for the first time a Sinn Féin member holds the top civic position.
"Anne Brolly's family is rooted in this area, in this community. She has invested a lot in trying to make this area a better place to live. Anne and her family like countless other republican families across the six counties have also suffered from inequality and from the injustice of internment without trial. But we are not bitter people. Anne and her Sinn Féin colleagues on the councils across the north demonstrate that each day. Anne in a few short weeks has already demonstrated by her actions that she is prepared to take risks for peace. That she is prepared to reach out to political opponents and enemies and to show by deeds as well as words that she genuinely and sincerely wants to be a Mayor for all the people of this borough.
"Equality will be the pivot upon which the offices of Sinn Féin Mayors and Chairs rotate. No one here in Limavady or anywhere else should fear equality. Nationalists and Republicans were excluded from civic positions here for years. Everyone is a winner as far as equality is concerned.
"Implementing equality is not easy. It present political challenges. But it is a indispensable part of the Agreement and the changes which flow from it. We as Irish republicans have to come to terms with the cultural identity of the unionist and protestant people and the manner in which they express their identity. Equality is indivisible. We need to seek as much agreement as possible and where that is not achievable then peaceful co-exsistence in disagreement.
"Recently I announced that Alex Maskey would head up our ongoing engagement with the unionist community. The Sinn Féin Mayors, Chairs and Vice-Chairs across the north will play a crucial role in this. We are serious about this project. We are individually and together going through a period of change in our society. It is important that unionism joins with the rest of us in managing that process." ENDS
Speaking during the course of the debate on the Residential Tenancies Bill currently before the Dáil Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Arthur Morgan TD said the Bill did not "tackle the fundamental issue of affordability" and would ultimately fail in "its own admirable intentions of addressing security of tenure".
Deputy Morgan said: "People in private rented accommodation will have gasped in disbelief that a piece of legislation brought forward to reform the private rented sector, does not tackle the fundamental issue of affordability.
"This is symptomatic of the Government's failure to tackle the crucial issues in relation to the housing crisis. We had a previous example of this when the Coalition Government buckled to pressure from developers in relation to Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. Minister Cullen has now shown he has no backbone in tackling rack-renting landlords.
"Rent increases should be index linked and not market driven where demand far exceeds supply.
"This Bill will, by its failure to address rent regulation, defeat its own admirable intentions of addressing security of tenure. The limited security of tenure offered by this Bill will mean very little to a tenant who is faced with a succession of substantial annual rent increases."
Deputy Morgan also questioned the Government's commitment to tackling tax evasion when it became clear in the Bill that the landlord registration would not be made available to the revenue commissioners. He said: "One of the most striking disclosures in this Bill is the fact that it specifically states that the landlord register will not be made available to the revenue commissioners. This makes an absolute mockery of any claim by the Government that they are committed to tackling tax evasion."
"To include in a piece of legislation, an element that is specifically designed to facilitate tax evasion is a disgrace," ENDS
Commenting on recent developments within unionism Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:
" The real test for the leadership of the UUP is not how it manages its party, but whether it is prepared to work the Good Friday Agreement, and in particular the institutions in a sustainable and committed way.
"The up-down existence of the Assembly and the Executive has done more to erode confidence in the Agreement than anything else,
"The British government's dismissive attitude to republican initiatives, it's pandering to unionism and its cancellation of the election, has been central to creating the current political crisis.
"The first step needed to inject momentum and hope back into the process is for Mr Blair to set a firm date for the elections.
"Assertions by the British government that it is committed to implementing the Good Friday Agreement have no credibility at all. Talk from Downing Street about upholding citizens rights is contradicted by the denial of our right to vote." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin during Leaders Questions in Leinster House today called on the Taoiseach to support an inquiry in to the medical practice of symphysiotomy that was carried out in hospitals from the 1950s to the 1980s. The Cavan Monaghan deputy described it as a 'barbaric practice' that 'destroyed the health of many women'.
Deputy Ó Caoláin asked: "Is the Taoiseach aware of the growing numbers of women now coming forward who are survivors of a barbaric practice carried out in Irish hospitals up until the early 1980s? This procedure, known as symphysiotomy, was inflicted on some 348 women in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, from the early '50s up to 1982. It was also carried out in the National Maternity and Coombe Hospitals in Dublin. My words are grossly inadequate to convey the true sense of the hurt and suffering of these women whose pelvises were sawn through during or after labour.
Is the Taoiseach aware that this procedure, while ostensibly done to deal with obstructed births, was inflicted on women primarily because the hospitals operated under a so-called Catholic ethos whereby surgeons deemed such operations preferable to caesarean sections, after which it was thought women would use contraception or be sterilised to avoid further sections? Is the Taoiseach aware that symphysiotomy was a crippling operation which destroyed the health of many women? Is he aware that such operations were carried out without the knowledge or consent of women, and in some cases, even after the birth of their babies, and will he therefore accede to the request of the survivors for an inquiry and resources to research and fund corrective procedures?"
Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said: "When my colleague Deputy Morgan last raised this issue in the House, Minister of State Lenihan simply repeated the statement made by the Institute of Obstericians and Gynaecologists of May 2001. They actually praised the procedure and acknowledged no questions or doubts about its use over a very long period with devastating health consequences for hundreds of women. The Taoiseach has done the same again and offered no independent government view.
"Will the Government at the very least acknowledge the suffering of these women and take into account their pain and their rights, as well as the views of the medical profession? Are we not gone past the days when members of that profession were never to be questioned or challenged? Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for Health and Children to accede to the request of Survivors of Sympysiotomy for a meeting and will he support an inquiry?" ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called for the Minister for Justice to end his practice of introducing "stealth bills" that bypass second stage debate. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"Last week the Minister tried to introduce controversial extradition measures as amendments to an entirely unrelated bill that had already been fully debated in the Dáil. Now I have just received a package of 32 pages of mostly unrelated proposed amendments to the controversial Immigration (Carrier Liability) Bill. These amendments look set to be even more problematic, including enhanced Garda powers of search and entry and powers of extended detention and fingerprinting of asylum applicants. These proposals have nothing to do with carrier liability and cannot be construed as mere amendments to that bill. They are substantive proposals with implications for human rights and civil liberties in this state as well as Ireland's international obligations and - much as this Minister scorns what he calls 'rights culture' - these proposals deserve full and open debate as they would receive if he introduced them as a separate bill.
"This Minister has now established a modus operandi whereby he attempts to stifle public debate by bypassing second stage debate in the Dáil on controversial legislative proposals. This practice is undemocratic and unacceptable and it must end immediately." ENDS
Speaking at the launch of the new Sinn Féin Education Policy, entitled 'Educate that you may be free' former Education Minster Martin McGuinness MP said:
"This document links our vision for Education to a practical approach for the transformation of our society.
"Sinn Féin believe that a progressive and radical education system is fundamental to the creation of an Ireland of Equals, to stronger communities and a society that can truly embrace our diversity."
"Education is the key to Equality; Equality of opportunity, access and provision are basic entitlements. The ability for learners to achieve their full potential is a fundamental right. Tackling disadvantage is an essential responsibility of government."
The new policy document comprehensively covers key areas including:
Underpinning policy initiatives across all these areas is a commitment to an education system that will liberate the potential of all, address and redress educational and generational disadvantage, deploy resources to promote access, effect meaningful partnership, put learners and teachers at the heart of neighbourhood networks of learning, promote achievement through quality of delivery and resources rather than narrow measurements of performance and intervene at the earliest possible stage to include people and groups hitherto excluded, disempowered or alienated.
An important new concept in Sinn Féin's education policy is that of Learning Neighbourhoods - a meaningful and effective partnership between all local education providers - including formal and informal settings, schools, libraries, youth clubs, local employers and community groups - and the community to develop 'learning neighbourhoods' that deliver education and support across a range of areas including both accredited and non accredited courses that meet the many and varied needs of the community.ENDS
Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North and spokesperson on Sport Martin Ferris described the decision of Kilmacud Crokes GFC to facilitate this evening's match between members of the Oireachtas and the PSNI as "regrettable and shortsighted". "This match sends all the wrong signals and reinforces the lie that the PSNI was the new beginning to policing we had all been promised under the Good Friday Agreement."
Deputy Ferris was speaking in advance of a protest being staged by members of Dublin Sinn Féin at the Clubs ground in Stillorgan. Mr. Ferris said it was his intention to join this evening's protest.
The Kerry North TD said: "I understand that very many members of Kilmacud Crokes were unaware that the PSNI were to play a match there this evening. I also understand there is a feeling amongst some at the Club that they were duped in to allowing the match to take place, believing that it only involved members of the Oireachtas. And while it is unfair to expect any GAA Club to adjudicate over what is a political problem I believe it is a regrettable and shortsighted decision that should be reversed even at this stage.
"This match sends all the wrong signals and reinforces the lie that the PSNI is the new beginning to policing we had all been promised under the Good Friday Agreement. The simple fact of the matter is that the PSNI is not the new beginning to policing promised. We still don't have the accountability and democratic control over the PSNI to ensure that it is a police service to which nationalists can give their allegiance. We still have in place the Special Branch, which was responsible for controlling and directing unionist death squads as they went about their business of murdering nationalists unhindered.
"Sinn Féin wants a policing service for all the people of the Six Counties. The Patten proposals were the blueprint for that service. Patten itself was a compromise - it represented the very minimum required to get a truly representative and accountable policing service. No amount of spin or PR exercises can change that fact.
"Jimmy Deenihan and the other members of the Oireachtas who plan to take part in this game need to reflect long and hard on the damage they are doing, to getting the full implementation of Patten, by engaging in this sham." ENDSitself was a compromise - it represented the very minimum required to get a truly representative and accountable policing service. No amount of spin or PR exercises can change that fact.
"Jimmy Deenihan and the other members of the Oireachtas who plan to take part in this game need to reflect long and hard on the damage they are doing, to getting the full implementation of Patten, by engaging in this sham." ENDS
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Gerry McHugh has expressed concern at the sale of horses at Necane, Irvinstown.
Mr McHugh said:
The Assembly Public Accounts Committee raised some very serious concerns especially the management, and roles of senior DARD staff, together with the conflict of interest some had in this project. We share all of these concerns and feel that those people were never properly held to account by DARD.
"However the decision now to sell these horses may be a flawed one.
"There is an opportunity here to develop an all Ireland horse board association, which can build a thriving industry. This would allow both classification standards to be reconciled and the development of the very ethos of PEACE funding by enhancing cross border co-operation in what is a very successful industry in the South.
"The horse needs to be classified as an agricultural animal in the North and the industry needs support.
"DARD has constantly preached to the farming and rural community of diversification, now when we have the potential to develop a world class industry, DARD has decided to sell off the future of the sport horse industry.
"Many would question whether this decision about putting to bed and embarrassment to senior DARD staff? Instead we need to be using imagination to grow a world class Irish Sport Horse industry.
"If DARD was serious about the future of the Horse industry as was set out in the Vision action plan why have they ignored the 300 + members of the Irish Sport Horse Development Association? Why have DARD never sought to bring people together on an All Ireland basis?
"There is also the important question of what will happen to the proceeds of the sale of these horses. Will the revenue generated go back to the original funders or will it be used to develop the original concept of supporting the development of a world class Irish Sport Horse industry." ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD has called on Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh to reject any compromise on the proposed reform of the CAP that is based on partial decoupling. Deputy Ferris was speaking on the eve of Tuesday's crucial talks on the proposals that have been made by EU Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler.
Deputy Ferris said;
"We have been arguing for months that partial decoupling represents the very worst case scenario facing Irish farmers in the context of any reform of the CAP. Irish farmers are now almost unanimous in sharing Sinn Féin's view on this issue and yet the Irish Government appears to be willing to accept a Franco-German compromise based on some form of decoupling.
"It is our belief that this is not the best option available. We would therefore call on the Minister and his team to reject partial decoupling and argue for the type of reform that will benefit the majority of Irish farmers and which has been indicated by studies carried out on behalf of the Department and by other researchers around the main components of the Fishcler proposals".ENDS
Speaking tonight following the meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council, South Belfast Sinn Féin Representative Cllr. Alex Maskey said:
"There is little basis for optimism in tonight's meeting. The fact is that David Trimble is an increasingly reluctant participant in the peace process. He moved publicly and decisively onto anti-Agreement positions at the last UUC meeting on September 20th. His platform for tonight's meeting was to consolidate that. Tonight's meeting was not about whether to reject the Joint Declaration, it was about when to reject it.
"The outcome is a symptom of unionism's inability to deal with change. Unionism and the UUP in particular are not willing to accept the changes which should and must flow from the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
" The onus remains on the two governments and particularly the British government to implement the many outstanding aspects of the Agreement. This is the only way forward.
"The British government and the political leadership of unionism must realise that nationalists will not accept second class citizenship and that the Agreement is not going to be renegotiated. Unionism should engage with Sinn Féin and the other parties in managing change, instead of continually attempting to subvert and disrupt that process." ENDS
Sinn Féin representative for Foyle, Mitchel McLaughlin commenting on the discovery of an abandoned bomb in Derry at the weekend said:
"The people who abandoned this bomb are opposed to the peace process and opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. They have little or no support and operate without either a mandate or indeed a strategy to achieve political change.
"It is incumbent on all of us in political leadership to make it clear that politics can work and that politics can deliver change."ENDS
Speaking in Belfast this morning in advance of tonight's meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council, Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP said:
"Whatever the result of the Ulster Unionist Council meeting tonight, unionism has to come to terms with the reality that there will be no renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement is about is about is peoples basic rights and entitlements - about human rights and equality. These rights are non negotiable. They cannot be subject to a unionist veto.
"We are in this predicament because of the British government's pandering to unionism. The British government bears the greatest responsibility in this situation to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
"Unionist political leaders have to realise that the days of second class citizenship are over. Regrettably tonight's meeting is not about building a future based on partnership and inclusivity it is about the tactics to be employed by unionists to prevent change."ENDS
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From: Michael [email protected] on 13/06/2003 05.00 p.m.
Subject: TD travels to Colombia for last part of defence case
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe is today travelling to Colombia for the last part of the defence case in the trial of the three Irishmen being held there. He will be in Colombia for a week.
Before his departure Deputy Crowe said he was "convinced that the defence case to date had absolutely demolished the prosecution and had clearly shown that the men should never have been on trial in the first place.
"I am more optimistic now than at any time in the past about the prospects of the men winning this case," he said.
Cautioning against over optimism however, he said: "I would still be concerned that these men could still be the victims of a gross miscarriage of justice. The fact that the prosecution has fought this case all the way on a tissue of lies and misinformation does not bode well. As I reported after coming back from Colombia the last time, there are still very many prejudicial statements against these men being made by senior establishment figures. This has been confirmed by the former Attorney General Alfonso Gomez who suggested that it was a worrying development and said these statements 'could have a significant affect on the trial.'"
Deputy Crowe finished by saying that he "will be bringing over to the men the best wishes of thousands of people across the island who are hoping that the nightmare currently being endured by the Colombia Three and their families will be ended soon." ENDS
Commenting on the latest Consumer Price Index figures, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance and on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, said the Government must tackle inflation in health service costs. He said:
"The Consumer Price Index shows that health costs rose by nearly 8% in the past year with the increase in the cost of medical products and higher fees for medical practitioners. This is another element in the health crisis. People on incomes which fall just above the limit for Medical Card qualification are unable to afford visits to doctors and dentists or to buy the medicines they require.
"Government action is needed urgently to reduce the cost of drugs in particular. Pharmaceutical companies are profiting massively while people in need are denied the drugs they need. There needs to be government control of prices and the Minister for Health and Children must take initiatives to promote the use of generic drugs in the health services. Generic drugs cost approximately 30% less than proprietary drugs and there is a potential for a significant saving in costs." ENDS
Responding to Enda Kenny's comments about Sinn Féin's opposition to the upcoming Gaelic football match between members of the Oireachtas and the PSNI Sinn Féin spokesperson on Sport Martin Ferris TD said:
"Enda Kenny's outburst at Sinn Féin's decision to oppose the upcoming football match between the PSNI and members of the Oireachtas I believe reflects the embarrassment and unease that Jimmy Deenihans premature actions in arranging the game have caused his Party at a national and local level.
"As the largest party in the Six Counties representing nationalists and republicans I believe Sinn Féin is in better position than most to understand and to appreciate nationalists ongoing concerns about the PSNI. It is because we have taken our responsibilities seriously that we are not now about to settle for something that falls far short of what was required in relation to achieving a fully representative and accountable policing service, as envisaged in Patten.
"Sinn Féin is determined to ensure and we know that our position will be instrumental in bringing about the conditions which will lead to the creation of an inclusive and representative policing service. Unfortunately the SDLP jumped too soon, as they did in Weston Park. They have settled for less than the nationalist people are entitled to. It would appear that Fine Gael and Enda Kenny are also prepared to settle for less than what is a fundamental right.
"The proposed match is nothing more than a grotesque public relations sham which seeks to legitimise a police force that remains unreformed and still contains the human rights abusers and their bosses who colluded with and directed loyalist death squads to murder the likes of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. While others may be prepared to settle for a second rate police service Sinn Féin will not." ENDS
Commenting on the move by British Direct Rule Minister Des Browne from the NI0, Newry & Armagh Sinn Fein Representative Conor Murphy said:
" The removal of Des Browne from the NI0 and the series of portfolios he carries will inevitably cause disjoint and confusion. The face that Direct Rule Ministers can be moved around at the whim of Tony Blair is one of the reasons that the entire Direct Rule Administration must be removed.
" This action serves as a timely reminder of the flaws of Direct Rule and the need to see the re-establishment of the political institutions. Decisions taken in London by Direct Rule Ministers or their superiors in the Cabinet are taken with British interests in mind. They are not taken with the interests of local people as a priority. You only have to look at the situation around Water Charges to see that." ENDS
Speaking in the Dáil this morning before Order of Business Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin called for the urgent discussion of the "crisis level of bed closures in our public hospitals".
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"There were over 500 beds closed throughout the State this year. Particular attention needs to be paid to the situation at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin where facilities have been described by a senior member of the medical team as 'of east European standards or less'.
"Children with vulnerable immune systems do not have the necessary separate rooms to avoid infection, communal toilets have been described as unhygenic and up to six children per week in need of chemotherapy are being turned away because of bed shortages."ENDS
Sinn Féin Representative for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has described the decision of the Appeal Court this morning as 'a clear vindication of the McBride family's position'.
Mr. Kelly said:
"Wright and Fisher were convicted of the murder of Peter McBride. They served short sentences before being immediately reinstated into the British Army. The McBride family have consistently refused to accept this decision and have campaigned in a dignified manner ever since. Sinn Féin has supported the McBride family throughout their long battle for justice.
"The Appeal Court today vindicated the McBride family's position. They have ruled that these two killers should not have been reinstated into their regiment and rearmed. The decision to reinstate Wright and Fisher was not an isolated one. It has been British Army policy to protect those involved in killing Irish citizens and reinstate the small number of its members convicted of murder in the six counties after they served short periods in jail.
"These sorts of cases are indicative of British military policy in Ireland. In the main the Crown Forces have been allowed to operate with virtual immunity. The clearest demonstration of this is the activities of FRU. Sinn Fein will continue to support the family's campaign for justice. I have written to Tony Blair today to demand that he now act to remove these two soldiers and other convicted killers from the British Army. I have also written to Bertie Ahern on the same subject" ENDS
Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the news that the Irish government is to restore funding to Foras na Gaeilge, the All Ireland Irish language body established under the Good Friday Agreement.
Bairbre de Brún said:
"From the moment that cuts were made to the funding to the of Foras na Gaeilge, Sinn Féin has fought to have the funding restored. We have raised the issue at every possible opportunity, and pressed for restoration of the Foras funding during the recent talks process.
"We welcome this news and congratulate all those Irish language organisations who have campaigned for this over recent months. This is a matter of basic rights for Irish speakers." ENDS