Sinn Féin - On Your Side

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


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Sinn Féin's candidate for Dublin in the European Elections, Mary Lou McDonald will join the party's spokesperson on Transport, Sean Crowe TD and other Sinn Féin representatives in a visit to Phibsboro and Broadstone Bus Depots today, Thursday 10th at 2.30pm. During the visit she will meet Bill McCamley, President of SIPTU's Dublin Bus branch and Willie McDermott, Chairperson of the NBRU in Dublin.

The visit is to show Sinn Féin's continuing support for workers in their campaign against the Government's proposals to needlessly break up CIE and part privatise Dublin Bus with disastrous consequences for public transport users. Sinn Féin hopes to bring this opposition to privatisation from the streets of Dublin and into the European Parliament." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East, Daithí Doolan, speaking today in Dublin's South East Inner City called on people to come out and vote for change on Friday. He said the real option before people is to return those who have been responsible for a hospital crisis, housing waiting lists or to vote for Sinn Féin, a party which will put Dublin and its people first, a party that will bring forward a new deal for Dublin.

Mr. Doolan said:

"Sinn Féin's message throughout this election campaign has been to ask people to support our agenda for change and to allow us to continue to deliver for the people of Dublin. While other parties want to maintain the status quo, Sinn Féin is working for a capital that is a clean, safe and affordable place to live in. Our candidates have a proven track record of challenging inequality and delivering for our communities. With a strengthened Sinn Féin team in City Hall we can achieve much much more.

"People are telling us on the doors that they want change. If that change is to happen they need to vote for a political party that supports housing as a right, a waste management plan based not on bin tax and incineration but on A Zero Waste Strategy and increased support and resources for communities tackling the scourge of drug addiction.

Mr. Doolan concluded by calling on people to use their vote on Friday, "to bring about a city that we all feel part of. A city that we are all proud of, a city that is reclaimed by the people that live here." ENDS

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In Sinn Féin‚s final pitch on the forthcoming citizenship referendum, Sinn Féin TDs Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Martin Ferris, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Arthur Morgan and Seán Crowe called on republicans, supporters of the Good Friday Agreement, supporters of equality, and anyone who is unsure about the Government's referendum proposal to vote NO.

The TDs said:

It's official. The Government have not made their case. They have not proven systematic and widespread abuse of the constitutional right to citizenship by birth. All along they have manipulated information and misrepresented statistics. They have built their case on anecdotes and opinions informed by prejudice. They have timed the referendum to minimise public debate about a profound reversal of constitutional rights, and the introduction of inequality into the constitution. And in the process they have done inestimable damage to the peace process by unilaterally reopening a key provision of the Good Friday Agreement.

"However the Government is right about one thing. Citizenship matters. Constitutional rights also matter. The right to citizenship by birth is not a loophole, it is a republican tradition shared by more than 40 states around the world. It is a right that Irish people‚s children have claimed in countries like the United States and Canada. It is a right that a confident nation like ours can extend without fear. And it is a right that Irish people of the 32 counties overwhelmingly endorsed a mere six years ago.

"We therefore appeal to the better judgment of the Irish people. If you believe in the vision of the 1916 Proclamation and support equal rights, if you voted for the Good Friday Agreement and don‚t want to see it dismantled inch by inch, Sinn Féin asks you to vote NO to McDowell's referendum.

"If you are still unsure of your position, we urge you to vote, and to vote NO. If you stay at home and withhold your vote, your silence is consent to the agenda and the tactics of Michael McDowell. Your NO vote will send a message to the government that by rushing this referendum without adequate time for informed public debate, they have treated you the voter, and also the constitution with total disrespect. Your NO vote will show McDowell and his cabinet colleagues that this is not an acceptable way to govern in a democracy."END

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Commenting on the announcement that the Review is to begin again next week Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP said that 'the Review process this time must be qualitatively different from that which went before'.

Mr McGuinness said:

" Sinn Féin have been involved in intensive discussions with the two governments aimed at breaking the current impasse. We need to put in place the modalities and timeframe which would see an early resolution of all outstanding issues.

" I welcome the announcement today that the review process is to recommence next week. These discussions need to be qualitatively different from that which went before, and to be productive they must be accompanied by an intensive effort to see the political institutions re-established and outstanding commitments honoured." ENDS

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Sinn Fein raise concerns over attempts to murder Sinn Fein members in Ballymena with NIO Security Minister. Sinn Féin Assembly group leader, Newry Armagh MLA Conor Murphy has described the response of the NIO and PSNI to the attempted murder of Sinn Fein political activists in the Ballymena area as totally unacceptable. Mr Murphy said:

"In the aftermath of the attempted murder of Sinn Fein members in the Ballymena area it is clear that the PSNI and NIO response has been partial.

In lesser attacks the PSNI in particular are quick to point the finger of blame, particularly to allege republican involvement.

"Yet in Ballymena the PSNI are 'keeping an open mind' and the NIO security Minister has yet to get a briefing on a situation where it apparently unionist paramilitaries are able to engage in attempted murder with impunity.

"The difference in attitude from the NIO and PSNI to attacks on Sinn Fein, who represent the majority of nationalists, represents a wider and more deep seated ambivalence to unionist paramilitary violence directed towards the nationalist community." ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin south-west Seán Crowe said today he is "at a loss" to explain Health Minister Mícheál Martin's failure to intervene in the crisis that has reached catastrophic proportions at Tallaght hospital, adding that it was "staggering" to see how little the Government seemed to care.

Deputy Crowe said:

"The crisis at Tallaght hospital cannot continue to be ignored. We have been reacting with horror at each worsening day of the crisis - 25 people on trolleys, 35 people on trolleys?now 45 people waiting on trolleys is the latest figure. How long will it take for the Minister to intervene or even comment on this crisis? Families are looking for answers and increasingly people are becoming afraid of the possibility of being sick or seriously injured. As an elected representative, I am at a loss to explain why the people of Tallaght are being ignored and dismissed in a country which recently boasted of being the second richest country in the EU. It is quite staggering to see how little this Government prioritises what for most people is the top and often only priority - Health.

"Tallaght hospital is considered a flagship hospital of Dublin yet the numbers of people awaiting crucial healthcare is constantly climbing. Why is this?

There is no epidemic at the moment. Why has Minister Martin not intervened in some way?

"There is a glut of money flowing around in this country and it is not being spent on essential services. People are being left to suffer while politicians swan around the country with electioneering promises. The promises that this Government made regarding health over two years ago ring very hollow now. How can they justify the closing of hospital beds, citing lack of funding, in a time of plenty when the state coffers are bulging? The Minister, and his colleagues, must explain to the people of Tallaght why this is happening in one of Dublin's flagship hospitals." ENDS

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Download a PDF version of the Interface Intervention Document here.

Sinn Fein published its template of interface intervention today in Stormont. Speaking after meeting British NIO Security Minister Ian Pearson, East Belfast Councillor, Belfast deputy Mayor Cllr Joe O'Donnell called for the NIO to endorse the Sinn Féin template.

Cllr O'Donnell said:

"Sinn Féin have been working on the ground for a number of years now to improve the situation on the interfaces.What we have tried to do in developing this template is to provide interface communities with the practical mechanisms to deal with the various types of violence that might occurs.

"The long-term success of this initiative will be improved if it involves co-operation by representatives of the Loyalist/Unionist community.

"We made it clear to Ian Pearson that the NIO has to work with Sinn Fein in encouraging dialogue in interface areas and in particular to strong political leadership." ENDS

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Responding to John Spellar's attack on the Human Rights Commission and the Childrens' Commissioner over their objections to the illegal manner in which he his handling the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children's Issues, Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Thomas

O'Reilly stated that:

"I find it astounding that John Spellar could justify dismissing the objections of the Childrens' Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission on the grounds that they weren't elected. Who here has ever cast a single vote for John Spellar? Despite the fact that he has no electoral mandate, Mr Spellar feels that he has the right to ride roughshod over the Good Friday Agreement by refusing to allow a full equality impact assessment to be made on his proposed legislation on anti-social behaviour orders.

"Mr Spellar should know that Sinn Féin, the party with the second largest electoral mandate in the six counties, objects strongly to the completely undemocratic method he is using to push this legislation through. He has cut the time for meaningful consultation; he has prejudged the outcome of that consultation in a speech to the British House of Commons; he has failed to carry out an adequate equality impact assessment; he has ignored the Human Rights Commission; he has ignored the Commissioner for Children and Young People; he has failed to consult with young people; and he has failed to make clear the role that will be expected of councils and the Housing Executive under this legislation.

"Anti-social behaviour is a grave issue for our communities and one that needs to be tackled effectively. But it will not be tackled through the introduction of New Labour gimmicks by a direct rule minister that has repeatedly shown his arrogant distain for the people of the six counties." ENDS

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Sinn Fein Health spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has reacted furiously to comments from the British Health Minister John Reid about smoking in the workplace.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"These comments are a total disgrace. Mr Reid is clearly unfit to continue in his post as Health Minister. I only hope that political pressure will force local British NIO Ministers to adopt a more positive response to the right to work in a smoke-free environment.

"John Reid may think that smoking is good for working class people - the facts show otherwise. Working class people are far more likely to die from smoking related diseases than middle class people. That a 'Labour' health minister can fail to recognise this scourge and try to do something about it is astounding

"This issue is about protecting the rights of workers, particularly the low paid. Mr Reid is trying to mislead people and the suspicion is that he is acting in the interests of cigarette manufacturers, who can see the dramatic impact in reducing the level of smoking that the introduction of a workplace smoke ban is having in places like the south of Ireland.

"The extension of the smoking ban into the Six Counties would undoubtedly be as successful as it has been in the south and I urge the local British NIO Health Minster to ignore John Reid's position and introduce the workplace ban without delay.

"Poverty is not something that John Reid should rejoice in. It is a sad indictment on the policies of John Reid's government that poverty remains such a pressing issue, particularly here in the Six Counties. " ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has said that an interview by IMC member John Alderdice this morning on Good Morning Ulster will have done little to ally fears that the body is actively pursuing an agenda which is designed to reinvent the political vetting of community organisations seen in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Ms Gildernew said:

" Since the publication of the IMC Report the broad community and voluntary sector has raised concerns that the IMC are actively trying to reinstate the policy of political vetting which ravaged the community sector in deprived working class areas in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Given the remit and the make-up of the IMC and the content of their report Sinn Féin share these concerns.

" John Alderdice's performance this morning on Good Morning Ulster will have done little to ally these fears. It was quite obvious that he was couching a process of political vetting in soft language. John Alderdice needs to realise that local communities will not stand by and watch himself or his colleagues demonise the community sector and initiate a witch hunt against those providing vital community services.

" It is somewhat ironic that Mr Alderdice chooses to make comment on the eve of the EU election his own political analysis having been rejected on so many previous occasions by the people of the six counties. Indeed the party he is associated with could not even muster a candidate. If Alderdice was so confident of his ground then why is he not putting his view to the people?" ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy has said that the broad nationalist and republican community note the continuing silence by Hugh Orde over the case of missing Armagh man Gareth O'Connor.

Mr Murphy said:

" Since it emerged in court that Gareth O'Connor had a close relationship with the PSNI Special Branch and he was accused of setting up four Tyrone men for arrest Mr. Orde has made no comment on the case.

" This is in marked contrast to his previous position. At that time Mr Orde attempted to use the case to cause maximum political disruption by telling the Irish News that he believed that the IRA were involved in the case, this despite an earlier denial. What Mr Orde failed to tell the Irish News was that his organisation had a relationship with Mr O'Connor. In short he deliberately mislead the public.

" In court the PSNI sought and received a Public Interest Immunity Certificate to aid the suppression of this story. Hardly the actions of a transparent and accountable policing service. It is time for Hugh Orde to come clean and at the very least give the family of Mr O'Connor all of the information he has relating to this matter." ENDS

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Mr. Adams also called on the electorate to come out and vote NO to the citizenship referendum, which he said would enshrine inequality in the Constitution and undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr. Adams said:

"Sinn Féin is calling for a NO vote to the government's citizenship referendum as it will enshrine inequality in the Constitution and undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

"The issues at the heart of this referendum require proper debate. Sinn Féin wants to see a comprehensive immigration policy that is positive, compassionate, human rights compliant and anti racist. That policy must fully recognise the positive contribution of immigrants to Irish society and to the Irish economy."ENDS

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North Antrim Sinn Féin Assembly member Philip McGuigan has branded the PSNI response to ongoing murder attempts on Sinn Féin members in Ballymena 'as pathetic'.

Mr McGuigan said:

" Over the past number of weeks in Ballymena there have been countless acts of intimidation and a number of murder attempts on nationalists and Sinn Féin members in the town. There is absolutely no doubt that these attacks are being carried out by unionist paramilitaries in the area.

" It is an attempt to drive the nationalist population from the town and to intimidate Sinn Féin during the course of this election campaign

" The PSNI response has been to say that they are keeping 'an open mind' on the motivation behind the attacks. This response is pathetic, unacceptable and insults the intelligence of the broad nationalist and republican community in North Antrim and elsewhere." ENDS

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Speaking today in Dublin as the election campaign draws to a close the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP appealed to people to come out in strength on Friday and use their vote to create change. Mr. Adams said that Sinn Féin is on track to return an all-Ireland team of MEPs to Europe for the first time and to make significant gains in the Local Government Mr. Adams said:

„As the only all-Ireland party, Sinn Féin has been contesting EU elections across all five constituencies, Local Government elections in the 26 Counties and opposing the citizenship referendum. I believe that we are on target to return an all Ireland team of MEPs to Europe for the first time and to make significant gains in the Local Government elections.

"In the course of this campaign I have travelled the length and breath of the country and one of the most striking things I have observed is that people who traditionally voted for other parties are now going to join with the thousands of people right across Ireland who already trust Sinn Féin with their vote. They are doing this because they want change, they want to be listened to and they want to be represented by a political party which will respect their vote.

"People are responding to our message that they can change things. Sinn Féin is increasingly seen as the only real alternative. We are calling on people to support our vision of a Europe of equals, to protect neutrality, to oppose privatisation and allow us to advance our agenda for change in Ireland and Europe.

„The elections also gives the electorate an opportunity to strengthen Sinn Féin‚s hand as we enter what will probably be the most difficult and challenging negotiations since the Agreement.

"But we will not take anything for granted. We are confident that we have succeeded in delivering the Sinn Fein message, a unique political and social vision for a united Ireland. For that change to come about people from Wexford to Derry and Cork to Antrim need to make their voices heard loud and clear on June 11th and come out in large numbers to vote Sinn Féin number 1 in both the Local Government and European elections."ENDS

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Sinn Fein's candidate for Dublin in the forthcoming EU elections, Mary Lou McDonald has warned of disastrous consequences for the Irish health sector if the EU Constitution is passed as it currently stands. She was speaking after reports that massive overcrowding in Dublin A&E units has led to scores of people waiting on trolleys and a warning to the public to stay away from A&E units unless absolutely necessary.

Ms McDonald said: "The Irish Nursing Organisation has described the overcrowding situation in Tallaght Hospital last night as the worst it has ever seen. Fifty seven people were left waiting on trolleys and another twenty waited for treatment in the A&E waiting room. That we have reached a situation where the public is being urged to stay away from A&E units in Dublin unless absolutely necessary points to a health system in our capital that is in crisis.

"As bad as this is however, the draft EU Constitution as it stands will remove the veto member states have on opening up the health sector to competition and privatisation. This would have disastrous consequences for patients and workers in the Irish health service.

"Sinn Fein is committed to ending the two tier health system and in Europe we will defend our health service from being opened up to companies whose only interest is profit so that we do not reach a situation in the future where the disgrace of last night is even more commonplace." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is back in Belfast today after a whistlestop 4 day tour of all 5 EU constituencies on the island. Mr. Adams joined party colleague and EU candidate Bairbre de Brún on a canvas in North Belfast this morning.

Speaking during his visit to that part of Belfast Mr. Adams said;

'Over recent weeks Sinn Féin has fought an EU election across the island, as well as a local government election campaign and a referendum campaign on citizenship in the south. This has taken a massive effort on behalf of our party activists and supporters and I want to congratulate them all for their efforts and to ask them to keep it up for the next few days.

Without taking the electorate for granted I am confident that Sinn Féin will make significant political and electoral advances. We are on target to gain representation in the European Parliament for the first time and we are poised to dramatically increase the amount of local government seats in the south. From canvassing in the north it is clear that people are frustrated at the failure of the two governments, but especially the British government, to implement the Good Friday Agreement in full.

However, people are not for giving up on the Agreement and they and we are determined to see the obligations and commitments in the Agreement honoured in full by all participants. In recent weeks, despite our busy schedule the Sinn Féin negotiating team has continued to hold intense discussions with the two governments. I believe we have made progress in these.

The European and the local government election provide an opportunity for the nationalist and republican electorate to endorse our efforts and strengthen Sinn Féin's mandate as we enter what will probably be the most difficult and challenging negotiations since the Agreement.

I am confident that on Thursday and Friday people throughout this island - from Waterford to Derry, from Galway to Dublin - will respond positively to our record of hard work and achievement and to our vision of a new Ireland, A new European Union, on an island of equals in a Europe of equals.

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I am proud and honoured to have been proposed by my party as its representative to take on the role of Mayor of this great city. I want to thank my proposer and seconder for their kind words; I hope it wasn't too hard for them. I want to acknowledge the achievements of Shaun Gallagher during his year as Mayor and indeed all previous mayors. I also want to acknowledge the ground-breaking work done by my colleague Cathal Crumley when he carried out this role on our party's behalf.

This is a great honour for our party and an acknowledgement of the positive work that Sinn Féin does, not only as a force for bringing about peace but as a positive influence at civic level. As a Republican I want to say to everyone that the motto of republicans 'equality for all' will act as a beacon for my year as mayor. I will use my year in office to represent all the people of the City, working to help create a City of Equals within an Ireland of Equals, and as people across Europe prepare this week to decide the type of Europe that they want to live in, as part of a Europe of equals as well.

Tá sé tráthúil ag an am seo agus toghchán ag teacht anuas orainn smaointiú ar cheangal s'againne leis an Eoraip. Má's saoránaigh na Eorpa muid, is Éireannaigh go fóill muid agus ins an chomhthéacs sin , ba mhaith liom Gaelachas s'againne a chéiliúradh. Tá sé de rún agam sin a dhéanamh le linn na bliana seo chugainn ar bhealach nach mbagraíonn éinne. Chomh maith leis sin, ba mhaith liom gúth s'agamsa a chur leis an éileamh go mbeidh stádas oifigiúil ag an Ghaeilge san Aontas Eorpach.

In seeking to achieve this I am also mindful that there are many areas of our City and district where people suffer from high levels of poverty and deprivation. This is a problem that has to be tackled in a serious and systematic way. Derry has been described as the gateway to and capital of the North West and I will endeavour during my year in office to focus attention on the major infra-structural issues which mitigate against the future development of Derry as the hub of the region. Substantial funding needs to be targeted at the most deprived areas across the Council District to redress the decades of under-funding and decades of institutionalised neglect of this area. It is vital that we all work together to seriously address the issues of poverty and deprivation and in doing this we must focus on creating sustainable jobs with a proper living wage. The latest job loses at Desmonds reinforces the challenges that we must confront.

Inishowen has been our natural hinterland for centuries, almost a part of Derry itself, and there are few in Derry who can't trace some part of their roots back into those hills and coastal villages. In many ways Inishowen suffered from partition as much as any other area and still does. My mother's family came from Clonmany and then moved to the border. I learned to ride a bike on a road that was cratered and blocked by barbed wire. The opening of the border roads between our two areas, and the amount of social interaction that has flourished since then, illustrates the communal bonds that still exist.

There are many areas of co-operation where we can work with our neighbours in Inishowen, and throughout Donegal to the advantage of the people of Derry and the North West region. Already both areas are represented on the North West Cross Border Corridor Group and the potential for civic co-operation is massive. Our party has already processed a number of motions through Derry City council in the areas of waste management, Irish language, housing, health services and European funding. I intend to develop these cross-border alliances into action initiatives, which create economies of scale and improve services to all.

Tá sé tábhachtach go dtugaimse aird ar leith don nasc idir Doire agus Gaeltacht Thír Chonaill. Le blianta anuas, tá na mílte daoine as Doire tar éis am a chaitheamh i nGaoth Dobhair, sna Doirí Beaga agus in áiteacha eile chun Gaeilge a fhoghlaim nó blás den Ghaeilge a fháil. Tá sé de rún agam aitheantas cuí a thabhairt don nasc sin.

And to the unionist community I ask you to take a serious look at republicans in this community, what shaped us and motivated us. We are all born the same, without memory, knowledge or experience. It is our environment that shapes us, forms our thoughts, our opinions and our personalities. Sadly for centuries conflict has dominated our homes, our streets and our city. We cannot change the environment that we grew up in but we can change the environment that our children will grow up in. It can be a culture of tolerance respect and equality or a culture of division, suspicion and conflict. We in this chamber are charged with building a future for the next generation. Now is the time to embrace the need for change.

In doing so I want to make a direct appeal to the unionist community. Let us work together and look to the future. There is much suspicion among unionists about the motives and intentions of people like me, but there is equal suspicion in my community about the motives and intentions of unionists. If we are all serious about ending conflict ending injustice and guaranteeing equal rights for every citizen of this city then we have to work together to bring that about.

Republicans have a dream of an Ireland at peace, an Ireland whose fate is decided by the people who live here, an Ireland where everyone has equal rights regardless of who you are or what you are, an Ireland where the richness of our diversity attracts people to come and spend time with us. Unionists dream of the good old days, which, when examined closely, were not so good for either community. We can make it better for everybody if we are prepared to talk to each other, examine each others positions and work to create a better life for everyone.

I want to work with the unionist community and their representatives to build peace in this city and to resolve the issues that divide us. Are you serious about making peace? Remaining in the past is taking us nowhere. Can the leadership of the unionist community not live with the concept of equality, is that why they refuse to budge? Your equality means our equality. Is the leadership of the unionist community not comfortable with that?

I have always wanted to speak the native language of my grandparents, and theirs before them, and learning to speak Irish was one of my goals. As an adult it was not an easy task. My children have had the benefit of learning it from a young age, thanks to the efforts of some very dedicated language activists, something that was not available to me, or many of my generation.

I regard it as part of the identity, something that gives me a great sense of my own cultural identity. It can't be wished away because somebody doesn't like it. It is part of me and many in my community. It is no threat to any person or to any other cultural tradition. It is just something that is valued and regarded as deeply significant to the community that I come from.

In fact, in my opinion, the more multi-cultural this society becomes the more tolerant and understanding we will become about those who we now perceive as different. I am interested in understanding the culture of those who have descended from the lowland Scots settlers and the other cultures that exist within our community and in helping them to celebrate the diversity that makes this such an interesting place. I invite those of different cultural and religious backgrounds to engage with the office of first citizen to ensure that this city council acknowledges and supports all traditions within the city.

Agus ar ndóigh ní bheadh óráid mar seo i gceart muna ndéanfaidh mé tagairt don Ghaeilge.

Just as important as political differences are the various cultural traditions within the district. Our district is diverse and all the richer for that diversity. There are many communities here, consisting of a wide mixture of geographical communities and communities of shared interest. They all add to the cultural richness and diversity of our district.

The Irish language is something that imparts a great sense of my own cultural identity to many in our community. Irish was the first spoken language of this area, from the days when this Doire or oakgrove was called Doire Calgach after the local chieftain, Doire Cholm Cille during the monastic reign and up until the 18th century. It is a part of our heritage, as much as the walls and the siege, something that is valued and regarded as deeply significant to a majority of people in this community. It can't be wished away because somebody doesn't like it. Today over 600 of our local children are being educated each year exclusively through the medium of Irish. It is no threat to any person or to any other cultural tradition.

The culture of those who have descended from the lowland Scots settlers and the other cultures that exist within our community are other aspects of the rich cultural diversity that makes Derry such an interesting place. Those of different cultural and religious backgrounds will be encouraged to engage with the office of first citizen to ensure that this city council acknowledges and supports all traditions within the city and district.

There are also many ethnic groups whose customs and traditions add to the already rich culture of our City. Regardless of the referendum results in the 26 counties I want to send out a clear message to our ethnic minorities, you are welcome here in Derry and we value the positive contribution that you make to the City's life and culture.

Throughout the year I hope to use the office of Mayor to promote a greater understanding of the contribution that you make to this city. The more multi-cultural this society becomes, the more tolerant and understanding we will become about those who we now perceive as different. One of the objectives of this mayoral year will be a St. Patrick's Day celebration, which involves maximum participation across the city.

Déanfaidh mé mo dhícheall teagmháil a dhéanamh leis na grúpaí sin chun na traidisiúin éagsúla a thuiscint agus a chéiliúradh.

It is my hope that in the coming year that the City Council can organise a St. Patrick's Day carnival which can be inclusive of all strands of cultural identity in the City and serve as an example of how to celebrate cultural differences rather than allow our differences to divide us.

Déanfaidh mé mo dhícheall teagmháil a dhéanamh leis na grúpaí sin chun na traidisiúin éagsúla a thuiscint agus a chéiliuradh.

Equality will guide all my actions, and that includes potentially divisive issues. One of the issues, which has been used in the past to foster division, is that of Remembrance. As First Citizen, it is my intention to initiate a discussion on the concept of Civic Remembrance. Whereas I have my own views on how this can be achieved, I want to listen to the views of others. Therefore I intend to invite representatives from a number of organisations, including the Bloody Sunday Trust, the British Legion, Cúnamh, Derry Republican Graves Association and Wave to discuss and consult with them on Civic Remembrance.

Our city can put in place a form of civic remembrance to commemorate "everyone who has died as a result of conflict from or within this Council area". It is my hope that we can provide a template which others can follow.

Tuigim go mbeidh deacrachtaí ag daoine áirithe leis an coinceap seo ach sin an dúshlán atá romhainn.

Mar fhocal scoir, tá mé thar a bheith a bheith buíoch as an tacaíocht a fuair mé le blianta fada ó mo chlann féin. Tuigeann sibh cad is ciall leis poblachtánach a bheith gaolta libh. Mo bhuíochas libh uilig.

And finally, on a personal level I want to thank my own family, my mother and father, my brothers and sisters, Deirdre and my children who are here tonight. This is a proud moment for them and in some way a vindication of what they have suffered because of the political path that I chose to follow. To all other families and friends I offer humble thanks.

Go raibh maith agaibh uilig.

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has said that comments from the SDLP leader Mark Durkan indicating that he was waiting for a letter from Bertie Ahern before deciding his position regarding the Citizenship Referendum 'demonstrated a complete lack of political leadership'.

Mr McLaughlin campaigning in Mayo in advance of this weeks elections said:

" It is quite unbelievable that three days before the referendum is due to take place Mark Durkan indicates that he is waiting on a comfort letter from Bertie Ahern before he finally makes his mind up on the issue. People have the right to ask just exactly who decides SDLP policy. Is it Bertie Ahern?

" Mark Durkan's remarks demonstrate a lack of political leadership on this matter. Sinn Féin looked at what was being proposed decided on our position and publicly campaigned for a 'No'' vote. The SDLP in contrast have prevaricated and with three days to go have yet to declare their position either way.

" It is a quite remarkable state of affairs that on an issue which flows directly from the Good Friday Agreement and which impacts on people across the island the SDLP is unable to make up its mind and campaign on that position." ENDS

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A Sinn Féin delegation including Deputy Mayor of Belfast Joe O'Donnell and Assembly members Conor Murphy and Kathy Stanton will meet with the British Direct Rule Minister Ian Pearson tomorrow morning (Wednesday 9th) in Stormont Castle at 10am.

The meeting is part of ongoing efforts to ensure that interface areas remain peaceful this summer.

The delegation will be available to speak to the media at 11am in the foyer in Stormont and they will make public a template document drawn up by Sinn Féin to assist local communities affected by interface tensions.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Seán Crowe TD has reiterated his call on Transport Minister Séamus Brennan to produce a White Paper on Air Transport and also to scrap the forthcoming State Airports Bill asking what "vested interests" his plans for breaking up Aer Rianta would serve.

Deputy Crowe said:

"It is scandalous and irresponsible for Séamus Brennan to push the privatisation agenda against all advice. Millions of euros have been spent on reports claiming that the breakup of Aer Rianta would be a disaster yet he continues to insist it will happen. At the same time he is ignoring what actually needs to be done to improve air transport by placing a Ministerial order preventing the new terminal at Dublin airport from going ahead. There is no rationale for his refusal to act on immediate issues that need addressing for the good of air travel while attempting to push forward ill-conceived plans to break up a state company like Aer Rianta

"Next week the State Airports Bill is scheduled to come before the House again. This would enable the Government to carry out its deeply flawed plans for Aer Rianta's break up. I would urge him to pull back on this legislation and to listen to the many organisations which have presented him with the reasons why this should not go ahead. Sinn Féin have asked him to produce a White Paper on Air Transport as a matter of urgency before rushing into the unnecessar sell-off of Aer Lingus or breaking up Aer Rianta ? some coherent policy paper must be produced on the state of Ireland's Air Transport. Workers and the travelling public need to know exactly who are the vested interests that aredriving the break-up of this financially viable company??" ENDS

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