Here is the much celebrated video shown at Sinn Féin's An Chéad Dáil event in the Mansion House Round Room on January 12, 2019. Sinn Féin former Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha wrote and presents this historic and inspiring reflection of the events of 100 years ago.
Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún has today met with EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Danuta Hûbner, to make the case for a Peace III fund.
The meeting, which is part of Sinn Fein's ongoing lobby for the peace programme, was described by the MEP as 'positive and constructive'. The meeting also dealt with the Commissioner's forthcoming visit to Ireland and the issues of cross border and transnational cooperation and the infrastructural deficit in the North West Region.
Speaking after the meeting Ms de Brún said:
"Today's meeting with Commissioner Hubner was positive and constructive. She has a clear grasp of the political and economic realities on the ground in the north of Ireland and a desire to assist in seeing the dividends of the peace process maximised.
"The Commissioner had indicated to me at the end of last year her intention to visit the North of Ireland in the course of 2005. I am delighted that she has now set a date for a visit to Ireland in early June and I have asked her to include a visit to the North in that schedule. I look forward to her seeing at first hand the benefits that have arisen from EU support for peace and reconciliation.
"I presented Commissioner Hubner with a revised dossier on the need for a Peace III programme, covering the 2007 to 2013 period. The document outlined the strengths and weaknesses of previous peace programmes, and made a series of suggestions of how to make the most of future PEACE and IFI programs.
"I outlined the need for community based organisations to be fully involved in the design and implementation of the funding programmes. I explained the need for future funds to be directed to the twin goals of reconciliation and social inclusion, in order to combat the legacy of the conflict particularly for those most marginalised in recent decades.
"I also stressed the need for any future funds to be allocated strictly on the basis of need.
"During the meeting we also discussed the need to enhance cross border integration and both cross border and transnational co-operation. EU funding provides member states with opportunities to develop cross border projects. A new Commission proposal to develop European Groupings for Cross border Cooperation would provide added impetus for this.
"We also discussed the need for a greater focus of EU regional policy on the North West region, including Derry, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Several decades of Irish and British government under investment have created a significant infrastructural deficit in this area which needs to be overcome. Again under the new EU funds there will be opportunities for government and communities to come together and tackle these problems. Doing this in a cross border context would create significant added value to existing projects and initiatives.
"Today's meeting was a constructive engagement on a number of very important issues. Through my membership of the European Parliament's Regional Development Committee I will continue to highlight and work on these issues. It is incumbent upon all Irish MEPs to work together to achieve positive outcomes for the people of the island and I will be more than happy to play my part in this." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has indicated that the Sinn Fein TDs will call a vote against the Government's Disability Bill in the Dail tomorrow.
Deputy O Snodaigh said:
"Sinn Fein strongly supports the need for a rights-based Bill for People with Disabilities. However, the Bill currently before the House is not a rights-based Bill. It is a resource-based Bill. In fact, it protects the state rather than People with Disabilities. It is regressive and may actually reduce protections available to People with Disabilities. For these reasons, this Bill is no more acceptable to Sinn Fein than the previous Bill that was withdrawn by the last Government in shame. People with Disabilities and their families deserve better than this.
"I am calling on the Minister for Justice to withdraw this Bill and produce new rights-based legislation that is consistent with the recommendations of the Disability Legislation Consultation Group in its report Equal Citizens and the 1996 recommendations of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. Nothing less will be acceptable to Sinn Féin.
"It is unfortunate, but if the Government insist on this fundamentally flawed Bill Sinn Fein will be forced to call a vote against it tomorrow." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today joined Foyle Westminster candidate Mitchel McLaughlin for a billboard unveiling at Free Derry corner, before meeting with members of the Foyle Search and Rescue team.
Speaking from Derry Mr Adams said:
"This is a crucially important election. It is about the future - the type of Ireland we want to build. It is about the peace process and its success or failure. And it is about leadership - who is best to give the kind of leadership that will end conflict, build equality and make this century different from all those which have preceded it.
"My appeal to the IRA is about leadership - giving leadership. The SDLP and DUP have dismissed this initiative as a con trick. It is not. I believe that this initiative can make the difference. The Peace Process is at a defining point. Irish Republicanism is at a defining point. Big decisions have to be taken. I am asking people to support Sinn Féin record on the peace process and our efforts to find a way forward." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has rejected Irish Minister Dermot Ahern's defence of his electioneering in South Down last week and has criticised the Justice Minister Michael McDowell's intervention on behalf of the SDLP in South Belfast tomorrow.
Mr. Adams said:
"Contrary to Minister Ahern‚s lame protestations I have no objection to government Ministers coming north.In fact as he knows I have lobbied for Ministers to be involved in all aspects of life in the six counties. It is good to remind them that the nation does not stop at the border. For example, Minister Ahern could usefully spend an afternoon in the militarised zone of South Armagh. And when Ardoyne, Short Strand and Garvaghy Rd were under siege the presence of Ministers would have been very welcome.
"I merely raise the fact that until now while all the southern parties have electioneered against Sinn Féin, government Ministers avoided such blatant interference. Perhaps I touched a soft spot." ENDS
Sinn Féin Assembly member for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy today said that it would come as no surprise to nationalists and republicans that David Trimble today called on the electorate to vote for the SDLP and UUP.
Mr Murphy said:
"For decades the SDLP and UUP were in the ascendancy yet at no time did either party come close to delivering the sort of inclusive process which could deliver us a road map away from conflict and division. Sinn Féin entering the political negotiations brought that dynamic. It was a negotiation process involving republicans which ultimately succeeded after years of failed talks processes headed by the UUP and SDLP.
"It was Sinn Féin who brought the issues of the constitutional position, policing, demilitarisation, equality and human rights to the table. These were issues which the unionist parties were allowed to avoid in all of the previous political talks.
"It should therefore come as no surprise that the UUP leader David Trimble is harking back to the days when the unionist establishment dictated the pace of political change and elements of the SDLP blinded by party political interests support this position. However those days have gone, Sinn Fein have ensured that. Mr Trimble needs to realise that the days of nationalists accepting the badge of second class citizenship have gone and are not coming back."ENDS
South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey today said that the decision by Alasdair McDonnell to invite Michael McDowell into the constituency on Monday while Pat Rabbitte travelled to Derry with Mark Durkan was further evidence of growing divisions within the SDLP leadership over policy and direction.
Mr Maskey said:
"It is now very clear that the SDLP is a deeply divided party. This got some public airing over the selection of a candidate in West Tyrone. All that unites the SDLP is an anti- Sinn Féin hysteria.
"In the past week Fianna Fail have attached themselves to elements within the SDLP, the Irish Labour Party have joined other parts of the party and now we learn that Alasdair McDonnell is inviting Michael McDowell into South Belfast. None of this is about policy, it is all a desperate bid to stop the continuing rise in Irish republicanism and the journey towards Irish unity and independence.
"By this action and previous actions including joining with unionists in City Hall to become Deputy Mayor in defiance of John Hume, McDonnell clearly finds himself at home as the leading unionist within the SDLP ranks. Michael McDowell has never lifted a finger in defence of the rights and entitlements of northern nationalists, he recently of course claimed that inequality in society was a positive thing and his record on ethnic minorities is appalling. Alasdair McDonnell is clearly now openly endorsing these PD positions." ENDS
Sinn Féin Donegal County Councillor, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Limavady Borough Councillor, Anne Brolly have said they will be demanding answers as to how Lough Foyle Ferry Company subsidised by both councils has not been paying some of its staff the legal minimum wage. Cllr Mac Lochlainn has been informed that some staff working on the Magilligan/ Greencastle Ferry are receiving a wage of €5.60 per hour or €210 for an average 37.5 hour week, which is well below the legal minimum wage of €7 per hour in the 26 counties. The Lough Foyle Ferry Company is subsidised €108,000 by Donegal County Council and £55,000 by Limavady Borough Council per annum in a joint cross border tourism initiative to operate the Magilligan/ Greencastle Ferry.
Cllr Mac Lochlainn said:
"I have to say that as an elected member of Donegal County Council, I am extremely concerned at information I have received that this company, subsidised to the tune of €208,000 per annum by Donegal County Council to operate the Magilligan/ Greencastle Ferry and the Buncrana/ Rathmullan Ferry are currently not paying some of their workers the minimum wage. If my information is correct, then it is nothing short of an absolute disgrace. Particularly in the context of figures that Donegal County Council were presented with, outlining the great success of the Ferry so far. Failure by employers to pay their employees the minimum wage is nothing short of exploitation and we in Sinn Féin will not condone exploitation.
"I will now be asking the County Manager, Michael McLoone to immediately undertake an investigation in to this situation. My party colleague, Cllr Anne Brolly will be taking a similar initiative in Limavady Borough Council. If the allegations prove correct, then they must have serious repercussions for the company involved. At the very least, I will be demanding that all staff employed by the company immediately receive the minimum wage and then the increase to €7.65 per hour in May. As well as this, I will be demanding that any staff that have not received the minimum wage to date will be paid all the backdated wages owed to them before one more penny of tax payers money is given to this company.
"We will also be calling for a review of both Donegal County Council's and Limavady Borough Council's funding criteria to ensure that any business receiving subsidies is checked on its employment procedures in relation to paying the legal minimum wage required in each jurisdiction.
"I would also call on any workers who suspect that they are not being paid the legal minimum wage to immediately contact any of our elected representatives with their complaint."ENDS
East Belfast Sinn Féin Representative Deborah Devenny this afternoon contrasted the approach of unionist politicians to the raid on the UUP offices in Castlereagh with their approach to the raid on the Sinn Féin Offices in Stormont.
Ms Devenny said:
"When the Sinn Féin Offices in Stormont were raided the PSNI had briefed the media in advance to ensure maximum publicity and senior Special Branch figures including the DUPs Bill Lowry briefed selected members of the media on the operation.
"Today the offices of the UUP were raided in Castlereagh Council and the home of a senior elected representative was also raided as part of an investigation into money laundering. Correctly no media were informed until a fter the raid was completed. As republicans well know the fact that the PSNI raid a home or office does not imply any guilt. However what is stark is the approach to this news by the unionist political parties.
"In the wake of the Stormont raids despite the fact that nobody has been convicted of any offence and many of the original charges have since been dropped, the UUP collapsed the political institutions and the DUP made false allegation after false allegation accusing republicans of criminality and spying.
"It will seem to many within the broad nationalist community that an entirely different approach has been adopted today by the political leaders of unionism in the wake of these raids." ENDS
Sinn Féin West Belfast councillor Tom Hartley has called for an end to a feud within the traveller community in West Belfast after a machete attack today in the Hawthorne Street area.
Cllr Hartley said:
"It is time for this inter-traveller feud to stop. This is the third attack in this area and people are being seriously injured. There is also a huge risk of people being caught up in this violence, particularly young children.
"Cool heads must prevail or else there is a danger that someone will end up dead.
"Sinn Fein are prepared to meet with representatives of the travelling community and try and mediate in this situation."ENDS
Sinn Féin yesterday received an e-mail communication from the Independent Assembly member Kieran Deeny requesting that the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams withdraw the West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty from the forthcoming election to allow Dr Deeny a free run in the election.
Mr Adams today responded to Dr. Deeny and the text of this letter is below.
15 April 05
51 Market Street
Omagh BT78 1EL
Kieran a chara
Thank you for your letter of 13 April 05. You ask that Sinn Fein stand aside in west Tyrone to allow you to contest the election as an independent. I see no reason why we should do that. If you want to be elected as MP for West Tyrone then you should go forward on the same basis as all other candidates.
You ask that I withdraw the Sinn Fein candidate and outgoing MP, Pat Doherty. You should be aware that, even if I wanted to do this - and I don't - Pat has been duly selected by an election convention and ratified by the Ard Chomhairle of our party. I have no authority to overturn this process.
You also know that Sinn Fein, led by Pat Doherty, has a record of solid campaigning on the issue of hospital services in Tyrone. You have been on joint delegations along with Pat and local MLA Barry McElduff to meet with the British Health Minister on this issue.
We have brought forward unified proposals on how to bridge the gap on acute service provision in Tyrone. Along with other parties and individuals Sinn Féin has set aside political differences to lobby along with the other six West Tyrone MLAs for a bridging of the 'Tyrone Gap'.
The issue of hospital services in Tyrone is a major priority for Pat Doherty. So also are efforts to rebuild the peace process, advance the all-Ireland agenda and continuing work on the wide range of other social and economic issues which Pat has campaigned on over the past number of years.
Sinn Fein provides an unrivalled constituency service for the people of West Tyrone, with two full time constituency offices in Omagh and Strabane and we offer effective political representation at all levels in the constituency.
This level of service for the people cannot be provided by an independent single candidate. Neither can you hope to take up a ministerial position on the Executive when the political institutions are put in place once again. For all these reasons you should throw your weight behind Pat Doherty's campaign.
Sinn Fein have an obligation to the people of West Tyrone who have put us into a leadership role in the constituency to once again offer them the choice of voting for our party on 5th May. If the people decide once again to put their faith in Pat Doherty then I am sure that Pat and my other colleagues in West Tyrone will look forward to continuing to work with you to address the issue of health provision and of course the other issues which matter to people in that area.
Gerry Adams MP
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs Sean Crowe T.D. today questioned the decision by the Government to contest a legal action brought by a lesbian couple seeking to have their Canadian marriage recognised. Deputy Crowe said that the Government's decision is both "surprising and disappointing" and that it amounted to a pre-judgment of the work being currently carried out by the Constitution Committee which is considering the constitutional articles which deal with marriage and the family.
Deputy Crowe said:
"The Government's decision to contest the case being taken by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan who are seeking to have their Canadian marriage recognised is both surprising and disappointing. It is surprising because these issues are currently being considered by the Oireachtas All Party Committee on the Constitution which is examining the articles in the 1937 Constitution which deal with marriage and the family. The decision to contest the case is reportedly based on the Government's fear of the financial and social implications of recognising same-sex marriages. Equality and the recognition of equal rights should not be dependent on financial implications. The Government shoud have based its decision on what is right and just rather than on the financial implications.
"The refusal to recognise same sex partnerships, regardless of equivalent permanency, denies lesbians and gays equal access to a broad section of rights available to heterosexual married couples. That this denial of rights is based on the financial implications of vindicating such rights is scandalous. The lack of protection for gay and lesbian partnerships has permitted the government to introduce regressive provisions such as that introduced in the Civil Registration Bill 2003 specifically excluding same sex couples from the benefits of the legislation - which I opposed at the time.
"In our submission on the family to the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution Sinn Féin argues strongly for full equal rights for same sex partnerships." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Arthur Morgan has confirmed that Sinn Fein raised the issue of Gama with the Tánaiste in November 2003. He has called on Mary Harney to make a full statement outlining the actions which she and her Department took once the significant concerns regarding the pay and conditions of workers employed by Gama were brought to her attention.
Deputy Morgan "Mary Harney must take responsibility for the abuse of migrant workers by Gama Construction. These issues were brought o her attention in 2003 when she was Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. I myself wrote to her on 9th October 2003 in which I echoed the concerns of BATU that Gama Construction was not in compliance with the regulations then in force. I asked her to " initiate an immediate review of any and all work permits issued to this company".
"I also submitted a PQ at the end of October 2003 which I asked her if, with respect to the employment of Turkish employees, there were inspections by her Department to confirm that those who received permits were in compliance with the terms of their permits.
„The Tánaiste needs to make a full statement to the house outlining the actions which she and her Department took once the significant concerns regarding the pay and conditions of workers employed by Gama were brought to her attention.‰ ENDS
Note to editor: Parliamentary question 186 of 4th November 2003 regarding employment of Turkish workers follows:
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the criteria for issuing work permits to citizens of Turkey to work here; the number of Turkish people who have applied for such permits since 2000; the number of Turkish people who have been granted work permits since 2000; and if there are inspections by her Department to confirm that those who received permits in that time are in compliance with the terms of their permits.
- Arthur Morgan.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 4th November, 2003.
Ref No: 25284/03
R E P L Y
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney).
Employers wishing to employ Turkish nationals on work permits have to meet the same criteria as in the case of other non-EEA nationals. The employer applies for the work permit.
The number of permits granted in respect of Turkish nationals since year 2000 is as follows:-
New Renewal Total
2000 49 20 69
2001 89 31 120
2002 86 70 156
2003 342 86 428
A significant number of the personnel in question are accounted for by one employer, a Turkish civil engineering concern.
Where overseas contractors have been successful in winning significant infrastructure contracts such as those at the power stations in Lanesboro, Shannon bridge, the Ballincollig by-pass and social housing in Dublin, the Department has been, and still is, prepared to issue work permits to allow in a specified number of foreign employees to deliver on foot of such contracts, on the following basis:
· The number of permits issued is limited in respect of each contract;
· employees are tied to the contractor while in Ireland;
· permits are of specified duration;
· permits allow the employment of an employee only on a specified contract site;
· Irish employment law applies in each case e.g. the relevant
Registered Employment Agreement (REA) must be must be observed in each case.
The contractors in question, to date mainly Turkish and Polish companies, are in effect, Contract Service Suppliers. This refers to a situation where a company based outside the State wins a contract with a client company based in Ireland and wishes to bring in non-EEA personnel to work here on the client site as part of that contract. It is normal international practice to provide for the limited entry of employees in such circumstances. This also features in Mode 4 of the emerging WTO/GATS framework. Indeed, the Department would be happy to see further interest from overseas contractors in the area of infrastructure.
The number of employees allowed into the State, even for Contract Service Suppliers, will continue to depend on conditions in the labour market here and the relevant construction unions in Ireland are quite familiar with this approach. The construction sector in Ireland is still enjoying very buoyant conditions.
All employees in Ireland enjoy the protection of employment rights legislation and, where specific complaints are made, my Department is prepared to investigate.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD responded angrily to news today that the Minister for Justice is preparing to deport at least 200 parents of Irish children.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "This morning I learned that over 200 residents, mostly men, at two Dublin hostels yesterday received letters from the immigration authorities. These letters stated that they must report to a Garda in their hostel everyday at 5 o clock. They were told that this was being set in place to prepare for their mass deportation. I am informed that these people are all parents of Irish children.
"Seventy of these men from a hostel on Gardiner Street are at the moment on hunger strike and I believe there are another thirty preparing to go on hunger strike at a hostel on Hatch Street.
"I want the Minister to hear this loud and clear. Mass deportations are wrong and I believe contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. No parents of Irish children should be removed from this country. All Irish child citizens must have the equal right to remain in their country of nationality in the care and company of their parents. I am calling on Minister McDowell to suspend any deportation plans and grant permanent residency to these parents to safeguard the rights of these children and their families."ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has expressed deep concern at the continued exclusion of political parties including Batasuna and Aukera Guztiak from contesting this weekend's regional elections in the Basque Country. Despite the fact that Aukera Guztiak (All Options) had collected the required 30,000 signatures to contest the election and were approved by the Electoral Commission they have been banned by the Spanish Government and prevented from contesting Sunday's election.
Mr. Adams said:
"Following the Good Friday Agreement I travelled to the Basque Country and the message that I brought was the need for a peace process to be established and that it was essential that it be on the basis of equality, not criminalisation and exclusion.
"I travelled to the Basque Country again in January 2005 and offered my support and assistance in building an inclusive process.
"Sinn Féin believes that all sections of Basque nationalism want to seriously engage in a peace process. Therefore we are deeply concerned that legislation remains in place to ban political parties such as Batasuna and Aukera Guztiak and a range of Basque cultural and youth organisations.
"Our experience of conflict resolution has shown that the only way that progress will occur is on the basis of inclusive dialogue based on equality and respect.
"Sinn Féin supports efforts within the Basque Country to establish such a process and believe that such moves should be responded to positively by the Spanish Government and supported by the International Community."ENDS
Sinn Fein Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has called on Direct Rule Minister, Ian Pearson to designate the NorthWest Region as an area of 'Exceptional need'.
Mr. Mc Laughlin said:
"When we look at the different economic news for areas that a geographically so close it is clear that in the north we are being badly let down. Contrast the recent announcement further job losses at the Marks and Spencer's (Desmonds) distribution centre in Claudy with the simultaneous announcement by IDA Ireland of over 100 Research and Development jobs in SITA Letterkenny and an additional 300 jobs in Toucan's new Software Centre in Sligo.
"While Invest NI fiddles IDA delivers. These jobs are to be copper-fastened by a further €2.5million investment within the Letterkenny Institute of Technology's Business Development Centre by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
"At a time in which INI has apparently abandoned Derry to its own devices with the loss of over 5,000 jobs in this region in recent years these IDA successes put paid to INI's hollow claims that it is impossible to attract Direct Foreign Investment to a peripheral region such as the 6 counties. INI appear either unable or unwilling to learn from their near neighbours ability to continuously deliver jobs 20 miles down the road from Derry and IDA recognition of the necessity to complement such inward investment by providing the new knowledge based infrastructure that such investment requires.
"The NorthWest Region should be declared an area of 'exceptional need' with the required investment in infrastructure to attract inward investment."ENDS
Sinn Féin South Belfast Westminster candidate Cllr Alex Maskey MLA speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin's anti-racism Charter has said that totally commitment to tackling racism and challenged all of the other political parties to rise the challenge of not just speaking out against racism but also to stand together against racism and act against racism.
Speaking from South Belfast former Belfast mayor Mr 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. 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. It is our pledge to take action to confront racism and our commitment to specific principles of good practice. Hopefully its sets a benchmark for all of the other political parties to rise the challenge of not just speaking out against racism but also to stand together against racism and act against racism.
"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
Note to Editors
Sinn Féin anti-racist pledge
Having regard to the ratified international human rights instruments, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
Sinn Féin pledge to uphold article 1, which defines racial discrimination as "any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural of any other field of public life'.
Sinn Féin pledge to uphold the Treaty of Amsterdam which enables the European Community to "take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on ... racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief".
Sinn Féin pledge to recognise that the fundamental rights as enshrined in the international human rights instruments signed and ratified by the EU member states include the right to free and uninhibited political speech and debate.
Sinn Féin pledge to ensure that these international human rights instruments ensure that political freedoms are not absolute in view of the equally fundamental right to be protected against racial discrimination and that political freedoms cannot be allowed to be abused to exploit, cause or initiate prejudice on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic origin or nationality or for the purpose of seeking to gain the sympathy of the electorate for prejudice on such grounds.
Sinn Féin pledge that being aware of the special tasks and responsibilities of political parties in a democratic political process, to defend, articulate and bear witness to the basic principles of a democratic society; a platform for discussion on issues where there may be differences of opinion, integrating different views into the process of political decision making, thereby enabling society to solve conflicts of interest and of opinion between various social groups through dialogue rather than through opting out and conflict.
Sinn Féin pledge to ensure that free use of political rights can and must go hand in hand with firmly upholding the principle of non-discrimination and is inherent in the democratic process itself.
Sinn Féin pledge to ensure that representation of ethnic minority groups in the political process is properly an integral part of the democratic process, since political parties are or should strive to be a reflection of society.
Sinn Féin commit to specific principles of good practice:
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was today joined by the party's other three Belfast Westminster candidates, Alex Maskey, Deborah Devenny and Gerry Kelly as they handed in their nomination papers at the Electoral Office.Speaking to the media outside Mr Adams said:
"We take nothing for granted going into any election campaign. This one is no different. There are in my view seven winnable seats. It is far too early to call how we will do. At the last Westminster election we only won one of the seats we currently hold by 53 votes. So we have to go out and engage with the electorate on doors across the six counties.
" This is a crucially important election. This election is about the future. It is about the type of future people want and it is about who they want to lead them.. It is about the peace and it is about the type of Ireland we want to build. It is about leadership and giving leadership. It is also about the bread and butter issues - social and economic concerns which impact on peoples everyday lives." ENDS
Dublin Southwest Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe is this afternoon joining the protest by the Irish Nurses Organisation at Tallaght Hospital. Speaking prior to the protest, Deputy Crowe said:
"On Tuesday evening I visited Tallaght Hospital to see first hand the state of the Accident and Emergency Department. What I found was very disheartening in a state of the art hospital. Sixty-two patients were on trolleys awaiting treatment while at the entrance to the A&E there were large numbers awaiting assessment. The following night there were 67 people on trolleys, which represents an all-time high. The situation has clearly got worse since Mary Harney took the position as Minister for Health and Children.
"The way to resolve this situation is to provide more beds to deal with the increasing number of patients and to recruit additional nurses to reduce the pressure on the existing staff.
"I want to congratulate the Irish Nurses Organisation for standing up and saying 'enough is enough'. Every day we here of the pressures nursing staff are under to cope with the poorly resourced and overcrowded facilities they work in. They deserve full public support. So I am calling on everybody, Sinn Féin members and the general public, to support the INO by joining and participating in these protests around the country for the rest of the month." ENDS
Sinn Féin Health and Children spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is this afternoon joining the protest by the Irish Nurses Organisation at Cavan General Hospital. Speaking prior to the protest, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"The failure of the Government to implement its own Health Strategy means that nurses have been forced to stage this protest campaign. They deserve full public support.
"The disgraceful situation in our public hospital A&E units is preventable. Many of the remedies are in the Government's own Health Strategy which it has failed to implement. These include:
"It is scandalous that once again the number of people on trolleys and chairs in A&E units reached an all-time high this year.
"Nurses and front-line health service workers are to be commended for taking action on behalf of patients. The pressure should be maintained until Minister Harney fulfils the promises she made last autumn to ensure real improvements in A&E by the spring of 2005." ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equaltiy and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has expressed his disappointment at the failure of Justice Minister, Michael McDowell to provide necessary clarifications to his response yesterday to a series of questions posed by Sinn Féin deputies regarding the assassination of Sinn Féin Councillor Eddie Fullerton in his Buncrana home in 1991.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I welcomed the Minister's original reply to the questions posed by my colleagues and myself in regard to the Fullerton case. But I was disappointed that he did not see fit to address all of the issues that we raised. Clarification was, and still is, needed on a number of issues including the reason why the reinvestigation was delayed by some fourteen months, whether the Minister will commit to publish the final report on the reinvestigation, and most importantly if the Minister has in fact raised this case directly with the British Government. If he has, we need to know how long they have been holding back the necessary information and cooperation. If he hasn't then we need to know why, and we also need a commitment from him to do so immediately.
"Last night I asked the Minister for some clarity on these issues but unfortunately the only reply I got was a rehash of his original statement in response to the questions posed by my colleagues and myself. I am disappointed that the Minister has not taken the opportunity to clarify these issues but I will continue to seek answers to these very important questions over the coming days and weeks.
"The Fullerton family deserve every support in their search for truth and justice." ENDS
Note to editor:
The following is the transcript of from last nights exchange in the Dáil,
Aengus Ó Snodaigh: In 1991, Donegal Sinn Féin County Councillor, Eddie Fullerton, was assassinated by a British pseudo-gang, a loyalist death squad, at his home in Buncrana. His killing was later claimed by the UDA, using their other name, the UFF. No one has ever been convicted or charged with his killing. There is evidence of British armed forces collusion in his death. Eddie's photograph was among crown forces photomontages seized from loyalists by the Stephens Inquiry team six months after Eddie's killing, which probably came from their masters, the force research unit. Many believe that Eddie, who was shot just one month before local elections that year, was targeted as part of a wider campaign against Sinn Féin members, eight of whom were assassinated between 1989 and 1992.
There are also serious questions about irregularities in the Garda investigation. A number of the Donegal gardaí who are the subject of the Morris tribunal were involved in the Fullerton investigation, including disgraced Garda Noel McMahon. Despite this, the Fullerton family's requests to have the conduct of the gardaí in the case investigated by the Morris tribunal were refused. A reinvestigation into the case finally commenced 14 years later, not as a result of diligence on the part of the gardaí or the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, but because of the efforts of the Fullerton family who presented a dossier to the Minister demanding his assistance in the search for the truth. The Minister subsequently directed not a full public inquiry, but an internal re-examination of the case by the Garda Commissioner. This has resulted in an interim report to the Minister, which has never been published.
Yesterday, the Minister answered a series of questions I and my party colleagues put to him in the case. I welcome the Minister's reply, particularly in that it makes very clear that the British Government and the PSNI are holding up the process of finding out the truth about collusion in this case, and that it also leaves open the possibility of a public inquiry. However, I still need clarification on a number of issues. In his answer yesterday, the Minister said the family's dossier amounted to no more than what was raised directly with the Garda Síochána 14 months previously. Will the Minister clarify why the matter was delayed until June 2003 rather than being addressed in April 2002 when this information came to light. In his answer yesterday, the Minister said that he will not publish the interim report he has received on the case because it is incomplete due to the outstanding information needed from the British authorities and the PSNI. However, he avoids committing to publishing the final report. We need this commitment now. The Fullerton family, the people of Buncrana and the Irish people as a whole deserve to know the truth about the assassination of this elected representative. Question marks also remain over the serious deficiencies in the original Garda investigation, including its failure to interview key suspects and a witness. The public deserves to know the truth about this.
Disturbingly, despite a direct question on the matter, it is unclear from the Minister's reply whether he has raised this case with the British Government. If he has not done so, I want a clear commitment as to when he will do so, as the assassination of an Irish public representative as a result of British intelligence collusion with a loyalist death squad is a matter of the utmost seriousness and of public importance. If he has done so, I would appreciate clarification as to exactly when the British Government was made aware of the outstanding matters necessary to complete the investigation. I need to know at what level the matter was raised. Was it with the British Prime Minister or at ministerial level? When were the police-to-police inquiries made and has the PSNI or British authorities given a timeframe as to when the outstanding information and co-operation will be provided?
I submit to the Minister Sinn Féin's position that, just as in the Pat Finucane case and all other cases where there is evidence that British crown forces colluded with loyalist death squads to target Irish citizens, there is an urgent need for a full public inquiry into the assassination of Eddie Fullerton.
Mr. McDowell: As I have already put on the record of this House, the murder in 1991 of Mr. Eddie Fullerton, who was then a Sinn Féin councillo on Donegal County Council, was a most dreadful and heinous crime. I use the words "murder" and "crime" in respect of it. Regardless of who did it or why they did it, it is a murder and a crime, and the Deputy might note that. Unfortunately, to date, nobody has been made amenable for this appalling crime.
The so-called Ulster Freedom Fighters subsequently claimed responsibility for the murder, claiming that Councillor Fullerton was killed because he passed information to the Provisional IRA. It should be stated unequivocally that the subsequent Garda investigation indicated that there was no evidence to substantiate that claim, not that this is in any way relevant to what was cold-blooded, calculated and callous murder.
I am aware that since 2002 the Fullerton family has raised concerns about the murder and the ensuing investigations. In particular, the family has been calling for some form of inquiry into the matter. In April 2002, these concerns were raised directly with the Garda authorities in Buncrana. Subsequently, in June 2003, solicitors acting on behalf of the Fullerton family submitted to me a memorandum setting out these concerns, as well as outlining what is described as new evidence and new concerns. Included in these additional matters are references to a person characterised as a new "witness". This person made a statement to the Fullerton family's solicitors about events he allegedly witnessed shortly after the murder of Councillor Fullerton. According to the solicitors, these purported events pose radical questions for the integrity of the official Garda and RUC investigations into the murder.
"In response to the submission of this memorandum and out of a genuine desire to seek to address the concerns of the Fullerton family, I referred the memorandum to the Garda Commissioner, who established a review team led by a chief superintendent to conduct a thorough and concise investigation into all matters of concern raised. The Garda review has been extremel extensive. I say that because I have seen the interim report, the scope of which has been enormous. It has involved interviews with more than 120 people and the taking of more than 150 witness statements. Recently, I have been in receipt of that interim report from the Garda authorities on the current, incomplete state of the review.
"Although I do not plan to go into detail on the matter, I can confirm to the Deputy that members of the Garda review team interviewed the person characterised as a new witness to clarify his recollection of events on the day of the murder. I am informed that this person has stated that he could no longer stand over the statement he made to the Fullerton family's solicitor and, instead, made a new statement to the Garda review team.
"I am pleased to report that the Garda review is drawing to a conclusion. The only outstanding matters relate to the awaited results of a mutual assistance request to the British authorities and certain police-to-police inquiries with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
"I have heard suggestions that the British and Northern Ireland authorities are failing to co-operate with these requests. I have no reason whatsoever to believe, nor have I received any indication, that either the British or Northern Ireland authorities have failed or will fail to co-operate. In this regard, it is a simple reality that such cross-jurisdictional inquiries often take an extended period to complete. This is particularly the case in regard to mutual assistance requests, which are quasi-judicial in nature.
"No final conclusions can be drawn from the review until such replies from the British and Northern Ireland authorities are received, evaluated and acted upon, as appropriate, by the Garda Síochána. Although I do not intend to publish the Garda report which I recently received, I have undertaken to contact the Fullerton family's solicitors with a full response to their concerns, as soon as all the outstanding matters are clarified by the Garda Síochána.
"It should be noted that the Fullerton family and their solicitors have been kept informed of developments by the Garda chief superintendent in charge of the review, who met them in December 2004. The investigation file in this case remains open and I will be in contact with the family directly in due course when the current review of all matters raised with me is brought to a definitive conclusion.