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An Chéad Dáil

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.


Responding to remarks made by the Unionist peer John Laird in the House of Lords regarding Irish businessman Phil Flynn and others, Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has again accused Laird of cowardly and deceitful behaviour and challenged him to come clean over his links with unionist paramilitaries.

Mr Maskey said:

"This is the second occasion in the last number of weeks that John Laird has hidden behind the farce of British parliamentary privilege to make scurrilous and unfounded allegations against Irish citizens safe in the knowledge that this archaic law prevents individuals from seeking legal redress.

"John Lairds rant in front of his unelected and indeed unelectable colleagues was the action of a political coward. No doubt Laird like the unionists before him who have hidden behind parliamentary privilege in the past will point blank refuse to repeat these allegations in public. The fact that has so far refused to publicly repeat these allegations demonstrates that he knows there that he would face serious legal consequences as a result of making these unfounded claims.

"Many nationalists remember John Laird and his leadership role along with the UDA and other unionist paramilitary gangs in bringing widespread disruption and terror to the six counties during the Ulster Workers Strike in the early 1970s. Laird was also part of the old failed Stormont regime which governed the six counties with a mix of fear, repression and political gerrymandering. I doubt that Laird would come clean over his own links with unionist paramilitaries. Given his background it will come as no surprise that Laird has again chosen a cowardly and deceitful course of action." ENDS


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has addressed a press confernece today on Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and the Criminal Justice Bill, at the Earl of Kildare Hotel on Kildare Street. Deputy Ó Snodaigh outlined the reasons for Sinn Féin's opposition to ASBOs and the party's alternative proposals for dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Speaking at the press conference he said, "Last year Sinn Féin took a position of opposition to the Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) imposed in the Six Counties by the British Government under the Anti-Social Behaviour (NI) Order 2004, primarily on the basis of human rights concerns, particularly those raised by the children's rights sector.

"But we also oppose ASBOs because the evidence from their operation in Britain for over six years is that they don't work to solve the problem of anti-social behaviour.

"Even the Garda Representative's Association has said that the laws to deal with anti-social behaviour are already in place and that proper resources are all that is needed to enforce these laws. In large part, we agree with them.

"We need effective solutions to anti-social behaviour, not more gimmicks from Michael McDowell. There are more effective alternatives to ASBOs available to us. Let's use them.

"Sinn Féin's basic position on the alternatives to ASBOs is the following:

  • Much of what is represented as "anti-social" behaviour is actually criminal behaviour. Crime should be prosecuted.
  • We need better community policing to deter and to enforce the existing law.
  • We need more resources to enhance community supervision by the Probation and Welfare Service.
  • We need the full implementation of the Children's Act 2001.
  • We need community restorative justice alternatives to imprisonment or fines.
  • Where the behaviour involved is disruptive and offensive but not criminal, we need a community mediation service for conflict resolution such as that operating in Norway.

"Finally, we need to make the Garda Síochána accountable to the communities they serve, by introducing an effective formula such as the Community Policing Partnerships at District Level proposed by Sinn Féin -- which involve much stronger mechanisms for local control than those proposed by the Minister or any of the other political parties." ENDS


Sinn Féin Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough, Cllr Francie Molloy MLA will welcome the Portuguese Foreign Minster Antonio Braga tomorrow, Friday 10th June, at 12.15 to the council area at the STEP building in Dungannon.

The Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Mayor speaking ahead of the visit by Mr Braga said:

"Migrant workers play an important role both in the local economy and the life of the community. It is important that the working conditions of migrant workers, many of whom are Portuguese, are protected.

"It is also vital that we do more to challenge racism, that appears to be growing, wherever it emanates from.

"No one in Ireland should be treated as second class citizens because we are all first class citizens. This means that when it comes to the warmth of our welcome or to the rights of workers, or importantly the right to live free from fear, intimidation or harassment that everyone, no matter what their origin, should be treated equally.

"The Portuguese community bring with them a rich diversity." ENDS


Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew congratulated the South Tyrone Area Partnership on developing an initiative to connect 25 homes in South Tyrone without water to the water supply with the help of funding from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity programme.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The attitude of government departments to the serious issue of water supply has been a disgrace. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century that thousands of people do not have access to a safe water supply in their homes.

"This community led initiative shows what can be done if the political will is there.

"Although this project will initially help 25 homes I would hope that if successful it would become the model for roll out not just to the hundreds of other homes in South Tyrone, where there is an estimated 355 homes without water supply, but through the Six Counties and across Ireland.

"This is an excellent partnership between the council, the local strategic partnership, the Health Action Zone, DRD water service and DARD.

"It is vital that we address the fundamental issue of access to basic amenities and indeed the wider issue of equal access to all services for people living in rural and often disadvantaged communities if we are to ensure that we develop viable and sustainable rural communities." ENDS


Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, spokesperson on Policing and Justice, has said that the vision of the new beginning to policing enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 remains "unfinished business". Mr Kelly was speaking after the Oversight Commissioner for Policing published his 13th report, and after Sinn Féin met yesterday with the Oversight Commissioner.

Mr Kelly said :

"This is the end of the first five year term of the Office of the Oversight Commissioner. Sinn Fein has made huge advances in negotiations on policing and justice during that time. However, there are outstanding issues, most important of which is the transfer of powers on policing and justice. The transfer of powers is critical to a new beginning to policing because it is only in that context that policing and justice can be wrested away from London and made democratically accountable

"Sinn Féin explained to the Oversight Commissioner the seriousness of the outstanding negotiations to transfer powers on policing and justice. Earlier this year, the British government revealed plans to change the role of MI5 in relation to policing in the 6 counties. These proposals will pre-empt the transfer of powers and there is deep concern about what effect that will have on making policing fully accountable. We cannot have a situation where progress on one hand is being undermined on the other. All of this vindicates the position Sinn Fein has taken in demanding to see the legislative Act to transfer powers on policing and justice.

"The Oversight Commissioner‚s report highlights other outstanding problems including plastic bullets, the Full ˆTime reserve, representativeness, community policing, human rights , demilitarisation and the 'force within a force'. Together, this is evidence of resistance to change in policing which still pervades the PSNI and the NIO. For our part, Sinn Féin will pursue proper policing and justice with all our energy.


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has said that the DUP MEP Jim Allister had to realise that without the development of the Irish Peace Process which he has so vigorously opposed, there would not have been the massive levels of EU Peace Funding over the past decade which has transformed many communities. He should draw the obvious conclusions from welcoming the PEACE II extension and embrace the peace process also, she said.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"Significant improvements in thousands of ordinary people's lives across the island have been heralded by the investment provided by EU peace funds in the years since the IRA cessations. These have quite rightly been welcomed across a wide range of political and social opinion.

"The extension of this funding, launched last week by the EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Danuta Hübner on her visit to Belfast, provides an additional EUR144 million of funding to support the PEACE Programme for 2005 and 2006, bringing the total value of the Programme to EUR852 million for the period 2000-2006. Sinn Féin along with many others fought hard to secure this package.

"This investment is tangible evidence of Europe's commitment to, and support for, the Irish Peace Process. It can also help to bring communities together to address shared economic and social problems and opportunities.

"The DUP welcome for the additional funding announced last week seems to fly in the face of their efforts since 1994 and before to scupper the development of the peace process and their continuing opposition to the Good Friday Agreement which it produced. They should draw the obvious conclusions from welcoming the PEACE II extension and embrace the peace process also.

"Make no mistake about it, without the development of the peace process there would be no EU peace funding. If the DUP had been allowed to succeed in their campaign to derail the peace process and if those of us who have supported its development had not been resolute in defending it from rejectionist unionist attack, then many of the communities transformed in recent years would still be marginalised, vilified and abandoned.

"The DUP seem comfortable in welcoming the benefits secured for all communities through the peace process but have not been as forthcoming in exercising the sort of political leadership required in a process of conflict resolution. With the recent increase in their mandate we can only hope that there are those within the DUP who now accept the political reality demonstrated in the two governments' Comprehensive Agreement last December that future progress will be based firmly on the core principles of the Good Friday Agreement and that the peace process has not been derailed despite a decade and more of effort from Mr Paisley and his party." ENDS


Donegal County Council today passed a motion calling for a full public independent inquiry into the assassination of Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Eddie Fullerton by Loyalists in 1991. The motion was proposed by Sinn Féin Councillor Padraig MacLochlainn who pointed out that, "Three of the Gardaí discredited by the first report of Morris Tribunal were also heavily involved in the original fundamentally flawed investigation into the killing of Eddie Fullerton."

Speaking after today's council meeting in Donegal, Councillor MacLochlainn said, "Serious questions remain to be answered in relation to both the original investigation by the Gardaí into the killing of Eddie Fullerton and the involvement of British agents in the killing. The Fullerton family has been calling for a full public independent inquiry into the assassination and today I am delighted that call has been unanimously backed by the elected representatives of Donegal.

"It is significant and relevant that three of the Gardaí discredited by the Morris Tribunal were also heavily involved in the original fundamentally flawed investigation into the killing of Eddie Fullerton. It is unacceptable that two of these Gardaí have been allowed to retire from the force with full pensions and have never been brought to book for their actions or inactions. It is regrettable that the Morris Tribunal remit was never widened to include the Fullerton investigation. The Fullertons deserve justice and to know the full truth. This is also in the public interest. I warmly welcome the seconding of the motion for a full public inquiry by the Fianna Fáil Council Chair Francis Conaghan, and I expect the Minister for Justice to reconsider his past refusal.

With respect to the McBrearty family, Councillor MacLochlainn said. "Justice Minister Michael McDowell's promised apology for the McBreartys, McConnells, the Peoples and various others involved in this affair is not enough. Everyone involved must be held accountable -- all the way up to the Minister himself.

"The senior Donegal Gardaí that Justice Morris said 'share in various degrees the burden or fault' for the 'prejudiced, tendentious and utterly negligent' investigation into the death of Richie Barron should be sacked rather than allowed to retire.

"Ultimately, the Morris Tribunal findings reconfirm the need for root and branch Garda reform. As part of that reform there is an urgent need to go further than the Minister's proposals in the Garda Síochána Bill and establish an independent single Garda Ombudsman's office similar to the one run by Nuala O'Loan in the six counties." ENDS


Dublin South Central TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, was part of Leinster House parliamentary delegation that visited Palestine last weekend to view for themselves the conditions under which Palestinians are being forced to exist. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said it was a "very informative" visit, which showed "the full extent of the Israeli land grab that continues in Palestine." The delegation, which included TDs and Senators from Labour, the Greens, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, met with a range of Palestinian parliamentarians, community groups, academics and farmers. During the visit the delegation also laid a wreath at the grave of Yassar Arafat.

Speaking on his return Deputy Ó Snodaigh said he was struck by the many similarities between occupied Palestine and occupied Ireland. He said:

"From the aggressive armed checkpoints to the hilltop forts and military spy posts -- from the destruction and blockading of rural roads, separating farmers from their land to the constant military over-flights, it is clear the British and the Israelis have learned many tactics of oppression from each other over the years.

"Last weekends visit to Palestine was a real eye-opener. It was obvious to me that the aim of the Israelis and those who back them is to make a Palestinian State unviable. Every effort is made to disrupt the lives of the Palestinian people -- to prevent them farming -- to prevent them bringing the goods to market -- to prevent them opening businesses -- to prevent them from eking out an existence in their own land. This trip also brought home to me the reality of the spurious claims that Israel is removing its settlements from Palestine. While they claim to be dismantling some, other settlements continue to expand across the Palestinian territories. The 'Apartheid Wall' continues to be built deep inside Palestinian territory -- dividing communities and in places cutting them off from vital natural resources like water."

"This is about an aggressive heavily militarised state, breaking international law after international law, brazenly flouting numerous UN resolutions without sanction, trying to break the will the Palestinian people," Deputy Ó Snodaigh said. "It cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged by the international community. As Irish parliamentarians we have a duty to demand that the Irish Government send a very clear and unambiguous message to the Israeli Government that their actions will not go unchallenged. I will be demanding that the Irish Government take a more robust line in the European Union in relation to Israel and will push to have the Union suspend the preferential trade agreement it has with this rogue state." ENDS


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today said that the European Commission is 'still in denial regarding the defeat of the EU Constitution in France and the Netherlands'.

Ms de Brún made her comments after European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Luxembourg's Deputy Foreign Minister Nicolas SCHMIT addressed the European Parliament on preparations for the next European Council, including the future of the Union after the referendums on the European Constitution. Today marked a formal response by the European Commission and the Council to the No votes in both member states in recent weeks.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"Mr Barosso's address to the European Parliament today was light on clarity and high on rhetoric, regarding the direction the EU must take in light of two referendum rejections. In his address he commented that there is no magic solution to the complex issues facing the European Union at present and that a new consensus and vision was now required for Europe.

"It is clear that the Dutch and French votes must be accepted as the democratic will of the people. It seems that large sections of people within the EU, including the European Commission are still in denial about recent referendum results. Reaction has ranged from blaming the people to blaming national governments for their verdicts, without stopping to think that the institutions have become increasingly isolated from the citizens and vice versa for a number of years.

"If the European Commission is serious about accepting the need for a real, honest and open debate in member states then that is to be welcomed. However, if Mr Barrosso is talking exclusively about consensus amongst heads of state or national governments then it is doomed to failure. The people must play the predominant role in shaping the EU's future.

"Sinn Féin has long held the view that a new vision and consensus is required. We want to help create an alternative Europe which promotes equality, social protections and global justice. The current Europe is taking us down a different path, to one which promotes increased militarism, the shifting of power further from national institutions and economic growth at the expense of environmental and social progress". ENDS


Sinn Féin's Dublin Spokesperson on Environment and South East Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan, has welcomed, "today's publication and launch of a major study in conservation and regeneration in Dublin."

Speaking today at the launch in Rathmines DIT, Cllr. Doolan said:

"Today's launch of the Lower Rathmines Road-Conservation & Urban Regeneration Study is a major step in reclaiming Dublin City. Rathmines Road, now a major artery of the City, is one of the four ancient routes, which led out of Dublin. The study is the culmination of 2 years work and identifies the need for physical, social and economic rejuvenation of the area. It outlines the challenges for both central government & Dublin City Council. It also offers practical steps that can be taken in order to succeed. Issues to do with building use, repair work, front gardens, car parking, waste management and future development are all dealt with in the study. The solutions proposed are holistic in their approach to conservation and regeneration and include practical guidelines for repair of historic buildings, use of dwellings, funding and standards to be meet.

"I firmly believe that this plan when actioned can become a template for other plans across the city and beyond. Once the plan is actioned the benefits of regeneration will become more readily apparent. The future of the City cannot be simply left in the hands private developers and the scramble for profit but rather focused on improving the quality of life for everyone who lives here. This study can be the cornerstone for creating that kind of future, one that is sustainable and benefits all."

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan, called on, "the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government to ensure that Dublin City Council is not left wanting or waiting when it comes to funding the actions required in this study." ENDS


Donegal Sinn Féin County Councillor, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has slammed the Irish Government over the Bonamia outbreak on Lough Foyle. Bonamia is a parasitic disease that permanently destroys the commercial potential of the natural oyster fisheries it infects. Lough Foyle oyster fishermen estimate up to 200 jobs will be permanently lost as a result of the outbreak.

He said that the responsibility for the outbreak lies in the first instance with the Irish Government's Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (DCMNR), for consistently failing to put in place legislation that would have extended powers to the Loughs Agency to provide for the regulation of sea fisheries within Lough Foyle and the licensing of marine aquaculture.

Cllr Mac Lochlainn said:

"This is an absolutely devastating blow to the fishing community in the area. Essentially this outbreak has permanently wiped out one of the finest natural oyster fisheries in Europe. The natural oyster beds on Lough Foyle are one of only four healthy fisheries on the island of Ireland. The heartbreaking aspect of this outbreak is that it could so easily have been avoided if legislation had been in place permitting the Loughs Agency to control the licensing of aquaculture on Lough Foyle".

" For a long time now, the Foyle Oyster Sub-Committee, made up of oyster fishermen on Lough Foyle has pleaded with the Government to put in place the necessary measures to prevent this disaster. They have been continually ignored. For 13 months, they have sought a meeting with the Minister for Communications, Marine, and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey. Those requests have gone unheard. Instead the Government allowed a policy of aggressive mussel seeding and dredging in and around a precious natural oyster fishery to go unhindered against established EU policy. It is almost certain that this practice has resulted in the Bonamia outbreak".

He concluded:

"I now call on the DCMNR in cooperation with the six-county Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to immediately close down the entire shellfish fishery on Lough Foyle pending a full investigation to identify the cause of this Bonamia outbreak.

I also call on Minister Dempsey to issue an immediate statement on why his department consistently failed to heed the warnings from the Foyle Oyster Sub-Committee and why his Government have prevaricated for 11 years over the transferring of powers to the Loughs Agency.

I also call on the DCMNR to take immediate measures to protect the natural oyster fishery on Lough Swilly by freezing all aquaculture in that area until an investigation of the causes of the Bonamia outbreak on Lough Foyle have been completed and by engaging in immediate consultation with the Lough Swilly Wild Oystermen's Association to avert the decimation of that natural oyster fishery too. Now, one of only three on the island of Ireland". Ends


A Sinn Féin spokesperson this afternoon confirmed that party President Gerry Adams had held a number of meetings with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern since they met in Washington on St. Patrick's Day. The meetings were held at Gerry Adams request.

Sinn Féin has also met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The spokesperson said:

"Sinn Féin believes that there is a real opportunity to resolve the difficulties which have dogged the peace process in recent years. Gerry Adams meetings with the Taoiseach are about trying to ensure that this opportunity is grasped and that all of the outstanding elements of the Good Friday Agreement are implemented. We believe that the meetings have been worthwhile."ENDS


Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that Sinn Féin is ready to lead a campaign opposing the constitution. Ms McDonald also said that the government must accept that the unanimity required for this constitution to take effect is not forthcoming. They must be upfront on this matter with the electorate.

Ms McDonald made her comments after the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern announced that the government will hold a referendum on the EU Constitution. In addition Minister Ahern said that the treaty can be salvaged if the French and Dutch are asked to think again.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"In light of Minister Ahern's remarks that a referendum on the EU Constitution will be held in this state, I wish to reiterate my call to the government to clearly inform the people precisely what they will be voting on. There needs to be an unambiguous explanation as to the status of any future referendum put before the people, given that the Constitution has been comprehensively rejected by two member states already.

"Minister Ahern's belief that the people of both member states should re-think their decision on the EU Constitution shows a blatant disregard for the democratic will of the French and Dutch people. He wants the people of the Netherlands and France to think, re-think and think again until they vote the way the European elites want them to.

"Had the Dutch and French supported the Constitution would they have been urged to re-evaluate their decision by Minister Ahern? Of course they would not. The full import of Minister Ahern's comments will not be lost on the Irish people who saw the government re-run the NICE referendum until it got the result it wanted.

"Sinn Féin welcomes any opportunity for the Irish people to have their say on the future of the EU. We are ready for a referendum campaign. Sinn Féin will be calling on all of those who want to build an alternative progressive Europe to join with us in rejecting this constitution." ENDS


Sinn Féin Human Rights and Equality Spokesperson, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane commenting on the appointment of Brian Coulter to the new post of Prisoner Ombudsman has said that his first priority must be to ensure that recommendations on Prison reform, particularly from the Human Rights Commission Report into conditions of female prisoners are acted on.

Ms Ruane said:

"Over the last two years there have been number of reports into the Prison Service. It is vital that recommendations from these reports are acted on.

"In particular it is vital that not just the many complaints of women prisoners, particularly those at risk from self harm and the recommendation of the Human Rights Commission report into the conditions of women prisoners are acted upon without delay.

"Sinn Féin are concerned that those within the NIO and Prison System who are resistant to change and transparency and accountability.

"It is vital that this new office is totally independent of both the NIO and Prison Service and accountable because it must be in a position to effectively challenge bad practice within the Prison system.

"This announcement is not a response to, or a solution for the serious problems in the penal system in the Six Counties which Sinn Féin has highlighted. Indeed, it is more than a month since the Prisoners Ombudsman was appointed and opened his office so there may naturally be some scepticism about why the NIO delayed the announcement until now.

"Sinn Féin are also deeply concerned that this will delay legislation to give the Human Rights Commission the new powers, particularly in relation to the power to enter premises. I would encourage Mr Coulter to ensure that he is not used to create a smokescreen behind which the Prison Service can hide." ENDS


Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has described the handling of the Single Farm Payment by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as 'a shambles'.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The reform of CAP and the Single Farm Payment was supposed to ensure that farmers had the freedom to farm and the freedom to diversify.

"However, the culture of bureaucracy and red tape that continues to exist within DARD is making a mockery of that objective.

"The handling of the Single Farm Payment is fast becoming a shambles.

"Farmers have until June 10th to lodge their 2005 IACS / Single Application Forms yet the department is still issuing clarification on the types of non-agricultural activities allowed during the qualifying period for Single Farm Payment.

"For every working day‚s delay, a four percent penalty will be applied to any 2005 SFP payment and from 11 June onwards, the entire entitlement to SFP for 2005 and future years will be lost.

"This approach is overly bureaucratic and the result will be that while many are still struggling to cope with shifting goal posts and red tape that there is a real threat to farmers livelihoods.

"In addition farmers wishing to claim under the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowance, Protein Crop Premium or Aid for Energy Crop Schemes, who have not done so may also still qualify by applying on a late 2005 IACS / Single Application form on or before 10 June but again applications to these schemes will face a one percent penalty for every working day‚s delay and applications received after June 10th will lose any entitlement for 2005.

"The impact of these deduction could be devastating. It is totally unworkable that DARD has come at all of this so late and that communication with farmers has been so haphazard.

"Farmers are struggling with the red tape and in many cases not even DARD staff are able to resolve complications." ENDS


Sinn Féin East Derry representative, Coleraine councillor Billy Leonard has called on unionist politicians and community leaders end the targeting of nationalists in the area by unionist paramilitaries after the homes of nationalists were targeted last night.

Cllr Leonard said:

"Theses are outrageous attacks. There is a clear attempt to try and target and intimidate nationalists in Coleraine because of the surge in nationalist confidence and support for Sinn Féin.

"Unionist political and community leaders have a responsibility to challenge the attitudes within their community that try and make attacks such as these on nationalists in any way acceptable because they are not. Everyone has a right to live free from sectarian intimidation and harassment. Unionist politicians must by lead by example.

"Unionists who demonise nationalists contribute to the climate in which unionist paramilitaries target nationalists and republicans. This is unacceptable.

"Unionists who claim to be democrats must stand up against these attacks." ENDS


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has delivered a speech in the European Parliament calling for measures to enhance the 'quality of life in rural areas and promote diversification of economic activities through measures targeting the farm sector and other rural actors'.

The report was prepared by Agnes Schierhuber MEP calling for a European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"I would like to welcome Agnes Schierhuber's report on the Commission proposal for a European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. I endorse the view expressed in her report which sees the Commission's proposal as positive but in need of some specific improvements.

"I welcome the European Commission's proposals that aim to enhance the environment and countryside through support for land management. Equally important is the aim of enhancing the quality of life in rural areas and promoting diversification of economic activities through measures targeting the farm sector and other rural actors.

"The European Commission's proposed budget of EUR 88.75 billion for the period 2007-2013 at 2004 prices is also welcome, but we would still face considerable problems even with this amount. It is vital that such funds are used to meet the objectives of improving the quality of living for our family farming communities and the protection of our rural environment." ENDS

Full Text of speech delivered in European Parliament

Tuarascáil Schierhuber

"Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh thuarascáil Agnes Schierhuber ar mholadh an Choimisiúin faoi chiste Eorpach Talmhaíochta don Fhorbairt Tuaithe.

"Fáiltím roimh mholtaí an Choimisiúin cur leis an timpeallacht agus leis an tuath tré thacú le bainistíocht an talaimh.

"Ar aon dul leis an méid sin tá an tábhacht chéanna ag dul le mianach an tsaoil ar

fud na tuaithe a bhisiú, chomh maith le héagsúlacht a chur ar aghaidh in imeachtaí eacnamaíochta. Is féidir é sin a dhéanamh tré bhearta a dhíríonn ar rannóg na talmhaíochta agus na tuaithe.

"I would like to welcome Agnes Schierhuber's report on the Commission proposal for a European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. I endorse the view expressed in her report which sees the Commission's proposal as positive but in need of some specific improvements.

"I welcome the Commission's proposals that aim to enhance the environment and countryside through support for land management.

"Equally important is the aim of enhancing the quality of life in rural areas and promoting diversification of economic activities through measures targeting the farm sector and other rural actors.

"I welcome the fact that through the establishment of a single Rural Development Fund bureaucracy and duplication is reduced.

"I welcome proposals in the report to promote equal opportunities and the participation of women in farming and in the wider rural economy.

"Support for organic farming is also important.

"The Commission's proposed budget of EUR 88.75 billion for the period 2007-2013 at 2004 prices is also welcome, but we would still face considerable problems even with this amount. It is vital that such funds are used to meet the objectives of improving the quality of living for our family farming communities and the protection of our rural environment.

"There is a need for the aims and objectives of Natura 2000 to be mainstreamed into all aspects of EU agricultural and rural development policy and funding. Farmers, foresters and other land managers should be appropriately supported for protecting and maintaining Natura 2000 sites. Resources should be put into the fund for the 2007-2013 period that will enable this to happen Otherwise we seriously run the risk of repeating past mistakes.

"Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghábháil le hAgnes Schierhuber as a tuarascáil agus molaim go láidir í don Pharlaimint.


Sinn Féin Waterford City Councillor David Cullinane has called on the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to immediately enter into meaningful negotiations with representatives of scallop fishermen in the southeast in order to save jobs. Cllr Cullinane was speaking following protests by fishermen in Rosslare and Waterford Ports.

Cllr Cullinane said:

"It is regrettable that again people in this state are forced to protest in order to get this government to sit up and take notice. There is no doubt that fishermen and their families were reluctant to do so and saw protesting as a last resort. However such is the anger and frustration within the fishing community over the failure of this government to listen to their concerns."

"This Minister is responsible for this latest crisis in the fishing industry. He introduced regulations which unfairly and unjustly limit scallop fishermen to six days fishing a month. The fact that this includes travel means that most can fish for only four days a month. This is making it economically un-viable for these fishermen to make a living and many are facing financial ruin. Jobs are on the line because this government is turning its face to all reasonable proposals being put forward by representatives of these fishermen."

"I am calling on the Taoiseach to directly intervene. He must instruct this Minister to seriously engage with the scallop fishermen and intervene to save jobs and investment. Livelihoods and jobs should not be lost because of some nonsensical trade off between this Minister and Brussels. Common sense must prevail otherwise the future of scallop fishing in this state is under serious threat. ENDS


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Regional Development, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the DRD Roads Service, announcement that there will be a public consultation to discuss the selection of a 'Preferred Route Option' on the development between the western end of the M22 motorway at Randalstown and the section north of the Castledawson Roundabout.

Mr McCartney said:

"The importance of the A6 as a Key Strategic Transport Corridor cannot be overstated. For many years the A6 route has not been developed in the manner and with the urgency that is required to develop the infrastructure between Derry and Belfast, the North's two main urban areas.

"This latest stage in piecing together the A6 capital road works programme, by setting in place in 2 + 1 schemes, means that progress is slow. However, I welcome the fact the Roads Service are to hold a series of public consultations to allow the public and those likely to be affected by this latest phase of the A6 route to express their views and concerns over the works programme.

"Although some £25 million has already been spent on the implementation of 2 + 1 schemes and the Toome Bypass, Sinn Féin are concerned that the suspension of political institutions will undermine the impetus for future capital works projects.

"In terms of developing an All Ireland Transport strategy, this KTC (Key Transport Corridor) is one of the integral routes to connect Belfast - Derry - Donegal. The social, economic, educational and tourism opportunities are evident, economic regeneration throughout the North West region relies heavily on a modern, safe accessible and multi modal transport plan. The issue of redressing regional disparities is crucial for the development of the North, particularly west of the Bann." ENDS


Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has questioned whether the re-opening of the new entrants scheme will have the desired effect of bringing 'new blood' into the industry and called on the newly appointed direct rule Minster Jeff Rooker to bring forward proposals on a retirement scheme.

Ms Gildernew said:

"I do not believe that this scheme will introduce significant new blood into the farming industry.

"Given the current circumstances where so many farms are in significant debt, is it sensible to introduce a scheme where a greater level of borrowing is added to the agricultural industry

"Sinn Féin would hope that the four main banks, that are currently under investigation for charging practices, would keep under constant review the interest they are charging farm families, with a view to reducing this interest. Farmers who are considering borrowing money should also investigate this possibility with their local credit union.

"While we welcome the fact that income for off-farm employment, including that of spouses, would be taken into account when making an application into this scheme Sinn Féin believes that a retirement scheme would be far more appropriate." ENDS

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