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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.


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Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún (6 Counties) and Mary Lou McDonald (Dublin) will tomorrow meet with the family of Pat Finucane at the offices of Madden and Finucane Solicitors in Belfast.

Speaking today Bairbre de Brún said that the purpose of the meeting was to "receive an update from the family on recent aspects of the case" Ms McDonald said that the meeting was an opportunity to ascertain "what we, as MEPs can do to assist the family in their search for the truth".

Both Ms de Brún and Ms McDonald will be available to speak to the media directly after meeting with the Finucane family at 2.15pm, outside the offices of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, Castle Street Belfast. ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will this evening attend an event in Brussels on the role the EU can play in promoting nuclear disarmament. Ms de Brún said that she was "pleased to lend her support to the campaign for a nuclear free world".

Mayor of Hiroshima Akiba Tadatoshi who chairs the 650-strong "Mayors for Peace" campaign, will travel to Belgium as part of a world tour of capital cities to promote a nuclear free world in advance of May's UN nuclear disarmament conference in New York.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"On behalf of Sinn Féin, I would like to warmly welcome Mayor Akiba Tadatoshi to Brussels and to lend my support to his campaign for a nuclear free world. The people of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki have had to live with the terrible legacy of nuclear devastation and I wish the Mayor well in his endeavours.

"Sinn Féin is in favour of the active promotion of demilitarisation of the EU, including full nuclear disarmament. If the EU is to continue to promote itself as a progressive and forward thinking institution, then it must throw its collective weight behind efforts to campaign for a nuclear free world." ENDS

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Two motions put forward by the Labour Party and Socialist Party calling for the removal of zoning for a second runway at Dublin Airport were narrowly defeated at Fingal County Council on Tuesday 18th January. Sinn Féin Councillor Felix Gallagher came under considerable pressure to support the motions and therefore block the second runway.

Councillor Gallagher said:

"My decision to vote against the motions seeking the removal of a second runway was not taken lightly. As part of the process of arriving at the decision Sinn Fein sought the views of residents groups in Blanchardstown, Ballymun and St Margaret‚s. I also consulted with my party colleagues from across Dublin and the SIPTU Aviation Branch. Our conclusion was to support a second runway, although with some reservations, including frequency of night flights and noise pollution.

"The comparison of Dublin airport capacity with Gatwick is somewhat flawed due to the size of aircraft involved. The only other alternative would be diverting cargo and/or domestic flights to a new airport at Baldonnel or Gormanstown, which would take years. Sinn Féin believe that this would open the door for privatisation of, firstly the new airport and eventually Dublin Airport. The ramifications of this in terms of jobs, quality of service and frequency of flights are unthinkable.

"Sinn Féin is committed to fight for restrictions on night flights, noise insulation for residents and to oppose privatisation.

"The main argument put forward by both Labour and the Socialists was that blocking the creation of a second Dublin runway would not mean job losses or privatization. This is not a view shared by workers in Dublin airport." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on poverty, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton has said that many people living with poverty will be angry at the analysis of unemployment.

Ms Stanton said:

"It is dishonest for anyone to celebrate the level of unemployment. In Strabane, Derry and Belfast there has been little or no progress in tackling unemployment particularly long-term unemployment.

"There has been increase in of 22,000 in the number of people described as economically inactive in the last 12 months. Direct rule Ministers should be more concerned that the economic inactivity rate is almost 30%. This is very high and has implications both for individuals and for our economy.

"These are figures that have been doctored for the past 20 years. They in no way reflect the true economic and personal cost of unemployment. In many areas we have generational long-term unemployment. We have an unacceptable level of people who are marginalised. Describing people as economically inactive just about says it all.

"If we look at the totals for people who are classified as economically inactive, at the 'official' unemployment figures and also at the levels of long-term unemployment and long-term illness and incapacity the picture is far from rosy. 25% of the population live in poverty. More economically inactive people means that there are more people at risk from poverty. There is no strategy in place to deal with poverty. The announcement of water taxes and huge rates increases will also only further increase the risk of poverty for people who in many cases are already struggling.

"If we are going to tackle the social and economic problems created by the patterns of economic activity throughout the Six Counties then we need to be honest about what is happening. Using 'official figures' to disguise the true extent of the problem will not help us to put in place the long-term solutions that many of these long standing problems require." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has said that the images of British soldiers torturing and abusing Iraqi detainees will come as no surprise to the thousands of nationalists in the six counties who had to endure similar treatment at the hands of British regiments here.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The recently published images of British soldiers torturing and abusing Iraqi detainees will come as no surprise to the nationalist and republican community in the six counties.

"For decades British Army personnel have routinely abused nationalists and republicans on the streets and in the detention centres. They were also of course found guilty of torture in a number of high profile cases including the one involving the so-called hooded men.

"Claims of denial from the British military top brass will cut little ice with those of us here who know only too well the reality of British military occupation and the human rights abuses it entails." ENDS

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Sinn Féin candidate for the Meath by-election, Councillor Joe Reilly has said, "The Oireachtas Environment Committee must accept the views of leading archaeological and academic experts when making their recommendations to the Minister."

Councillor Reilly was speaking before the Oireachtas Environment Committee heard evidence today from three leading archaeological and academic experts about the proposed route of the controversial M3 Motorway.

Speaking in Meath today he said:

"The Oireachtas Environment Committee is to hear evidence today from three leading archaeological and academic experts about the proposed route of the M3 Motorway. To date the National Roads Authority has failed to rebut their opinion that the proposed route of the M3 Motorway will damage part of the Tara archaeological complex.

"The Oireachtas Environment Committee must accept the views of leading archaeological and academic experts when making their recommendation to the Minister.

"I would like to support the call for the Committee to seek the opinions of State organisations such as The Heritage Council, The National Museum and others who have remained silent on this issue.

"The reality is, as the experts will testify to, that the route through the Tara/Skyrne valley is not the place for the M3. There is a viable alternative route that can and should be adopted."

Councillor Reilly concluded by calling on the Government and The National Roads Authority to "immediately initiate the construction of the Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells by-passes to relieve the major traffic problems in those towns." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called on British Secretary of State Paul Murphy to intervene immediately and release Derry man Martin Doherty who was arrested and jailed earlier today for contempt of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

Speaking at protest in the Guildhall Square Mr McCartney said:

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called on British Secretary of State Paul Murphy to intervene immediately and release Derry man Martin Doherty who was arrested and jailed earlier today for contempt of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

Speaking at protest in the Guildhall Square Mr McCartney said:

"It is a disgrace that after the Bloody Sunday Inquiry into the murder of 14 people on the streets of Derry by the British Army that Mr Doherty is the only person who has been jailed over the events of Bloody Sunday. I believe he is being scapegoated by a vindictive British judicial system".

"Mr Doherty maintains he has nothing to offer the inquiry as he was not there on the day and now he is being imprisoned for not testifying about events he knows nothing about.

"Bloody Sunday was a huge injustice visited upon the people of Derry by the British Government and now they have committed another injustice upon Martin Doherty over the issue. When one thinks that no one has been held to account for the destruction of the murder weapons despite a preservation order and a court injunction it is an indictment on the British Government that they have now jailed a Republican for contempt of court.

"I am calling on British Secretary of State Paul Murphy to use his powers and release Martin Doherty immediately and I am also calling on Dermot Ahern, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Dublin to also use his influence to secure Mr Doherty's release." ENDS

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A full Judicial Review brought by Sinn Féin Assembly member Conor Murphy into the decision of the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy to impose sanctions upon the Sinn Féin electorate in the wake of the IMC Report into an incident in a Belfast bar last year will begin tomorrow morning in the High Court.

Speaking today Mr Murphy said:

" Last year when Paul Murphy, a British Minister in Ireland with no mandate, decided to discriminate against the majority of nationalists in the six counties Mr Murphy used the cover provided by the securocrats through the IMC for this decision. Sinn Féin said at the time that we would use every means at our disposal to challenge this action.

" One element of this has been to launch a Judicial Review of the decision. We have already overcome the initial legal hearings and will tomorrow proceed to a full hearing.

" Given recent comments by Mr Murphy indicating that he is again exploring ways in which to discriminate against the Sinn Féin electorate further the timing of tomorrows hearing is all the more important." Ends

Editors Note: Conor Murphy will be available to speak to the media at 9.45am tomorrow morning (Thursday 20th January) outside the High Court.

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the fact that there are only five centres in the state providing sexual assault forensic testing is "a barrier to justice" and the Government must now take responsibility.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "This Government has failed to ensure the most basic facilities for women who have been sexually assaulted or who have experienced domestic abuse. It is not acceptable that many counties lack a women's refuge service. It is beyond belief that women in parts of the country have no local access to forensic testing for sexual assault because this is a totally unnecessary barrier to justice. Despite increasing demand, organisations such as Women's Aid have been subjected to a funding freeze since 2002, and this has resulted in cutbacks of the limited essential services that are available.

"Inter-departmental responsibility is not a legitimate excuse. The fact remains that there is widespread, consistent and persistent underfunding of frontline women's services. This Government must now take responsibility because this situation is reaching a crisis point. Domestic violence and sexual abuse of women are hugely prevalent crimes in Ireland, and it is my view that the Minister for Justice should use his considerable energy and cabinet influence to get the needed resources released now.

"Sinn Féin fully supports the call for a €7 million increase in funding to the women's frontline services sector, for funding for these and related services to be ring-fenced, and for multi-annual planning and financial support commitments from the Government. At the very least we need an urgent commitment to make sexual assault forensic testing available in every county.

"I challenge Michael McDowell to take us out of the dark ages on this issue and to make this his lasting legacy as Minister for Justice." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today paid tribute to the work of local communities in combating the drugs scourge in Dublin.

Ms McDonald was speaking before she attended the launch of the Mulhuddart/Corduff Community Drug Team Project. Ms McDonald attended the event along with Dublin West Sinn Féin Councillor Felix Gallagher. President Mary McAleese will also be in attendance at this afternoon's event.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"I want to take this opportunity to wish the Mulhuddart/Corduff Community Drug Team Project the very best in the coming years. I also want to pay tribute to the invaluable work undertaken by many community organisations in drug rehabilitation projects throughout Dublin.

"Many working class communities have been ravaged as a result of the drugs epidemic in this city. Projects like the one in Mulhuddart/Corduff are an indication of the determination of local communities to provide help and support to those who live with drug addiction.

"Local communities deserve better from the Gardai and statutory agencies if we are to tackle this problem. We need the Gardai to work in partnership with communities and for statutory agencies to initiate a strategy to eliminate social deprivation.

Councillor Gallagher said:

"I want to pay tribute to the management, staff and all of the volunteers at the centre who carry out such fantastic work.

"Sinn Féin is calling for a complete overhaul of the National Drugs Strategy. It is clear that the policing aspect of the strategy has failed. Sinn Féin is calling for more resources for the Drugs Task Forces and Garda Drug Squads and the formulation of new strategies for dealing with increasing levels of cocaine and crack cocaine use." ENDS

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Sinn Féin newly appointed Assembly group leader, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has said that the £53 million cost in maintaining the institutions are a result of the British government's unilateral suspension the institutions.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The political institutions were brought down by the British government 27 months ago amid allegation of a Stormont spy ring. 27 months ago the institutions were brought down by unfounded PSNI allegations.

"Today the prospect of a quick return is again at risk because of PSNI allegations which have not been supported by any evidence.

"It is a disgrace that in effect the British government has spent £53 million to maintain the fiction of the Stormont spy ring. It is the British government that are denying our elected politicians the right to get on with the job they were elected to do. It is a disgrace that £53 million that should be used to make good decisions based on the democratic will of the people here is instead being used to disguise the undemocratic and bad decisions being made by unelected direct rule ministers." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Tourism, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan, has said that the loss of the Belfast to Scotland and the Dublin to Liverpool service will have far reaching consequences for the local tourist industry.

Speaking after a meeting with the management of SeaCat in Stormont today Mr McGuigan said:

" The loss of the SeaCat service will have far reaching consequences for the local tourist industry.

"This service carries 300,000 passengers each year and over 72,000 vehicles each year. This number cannot be met by other existing services. Therefore there will be less people coming to the North. This will impact on the economy locally and the tourist potential in the North. Tourist businesses will be affected and I have already been speaking to tour operators who have lost business.

"The result will be that jobs will be lost and that the potential to develop the tourism industry is weakened. It will also mean less competition which again will impact heavily on consumers." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed a commitment by Commissioner Marcos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection to tackle mental ill health, with a particular emphasis on suicide. Commissioner Kyprianou has said that tackling mental ill health will be one of his priorities in his term of office.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"I want to welcome Commissioner Kyprianou's recent remarks around the issue of mental ill health. It is estimated that every year throughout Europe approximately 58,000 lives are lost as a result of suicide or intentional self inflicted injury, with no signs of this figure decreasing in the short term.

"Suicide in Ireland still remains largely a taboo subject even though it accounts for many tragic deaths. A recent report has revealed that one third of deaths in the age group 15 - 24 are a result of suicide. This is an absolutely shocking statistic. In areas such as North and West Belfast the statistics are even more worrying. In these two areas the rate of suicide is as much as 50% higher than average and the people most at risk are our young people.

"In meetings with both Lenadoon Counselling Project and PIPs (Public Initiative for for the Prevention of Suicide) I have heard at first hand the difficulties of those trying to provide help and assistance in this regard.

"Much greater resources are needed to provide support for those experiencing mental ill health and for those at risk from suicide, particularly young people. If real and practical support is forthcoming, then we may begin to address the problem of suicide.

"I hope that Commissioner Kyprianou's welcome commitment will provide new impetus and lead to a practical EU strategy that can address this problem with the seriousness it deserves. I will now contact the Commissioner for further details on how he hopes to move this forward from here.

"At national and local levels, government agencies and employers must invest in services that promote positive mental health and which support people in distress and support the families affected by suicide and self-harm." ENDS

Note to Editor: Bairbre de Brún is a member of the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

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A cross Party Delegation accompanied by representatives from Training Organisations will meet with the Department of Employment and Learning on the 19th of January at 11am at Adelaide House, Adelaide Street, Belfast to challenge the Department's decision to end the very successful Worktrack & Learndirect training programmes.

These were programmes aimed at tackling long-term unemployment, by reducing the skills deficit through the enhancement of numeracy, literacy and IT skills.

Commenting upon the meeting Sinn Fein's Spokesperson for Employment & Learning Michael Ferguson said:

"Worktrack has been the most successful programme that has ever been designed, to address long-term unemployment. (54% success rate across the Six Counties).

"Its closure will have long-term consequences not only for the individual unemployed but also for society because it will generate greater intergenerational unemployment that will be more expensive for society to deal with.

"The end of Learndirect will undermine attempts to promote Life Long Learning and contribute to the knowledge based global economy." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this evening said that "the anguish and hurt caused as a result of the retention of patients' organs without fully informed consent should never be allowed to happen again".

Ms de Brún was speaking as a memorial stained glass window was unveiled at the Belfast City Hall this evening, in memory of those whose organs and tissues were removed without their consent following post mortem examinations.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"Many people have been touched by the suffering that these families have had to go through over the past few years. Not only did they have to contend with the death of a loved one, but they were subsequently informed that organs had been removed without their consent. The anguish and hurt caused as a result of the retention of patients' organs without fully informed consent should never be allowed to happen again.

"I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the families who have organised this memorial service. My deepest sympathy, and that of my party goes out to all of those who have been affected in this way. I hope that this evening's event will help bring some measure of comfort for the families" ENDS

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Dublin South East Sinn Féin representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan has called for the Government to "step in and save the jobs at the Smurfits paper mill in Clonskeagh while at the same time making a valuable contribution fledgling recycling industry."

Cllr Doolan was reacting to news today that the plant is to close after 51 years in operation with the loss of 70 jobs. Over the years the company has provided local employment while playing its part to help the environment by using recycled paper. It is now due to close because the company claims the facility is no longer viable.

Speaking in Dublin today he said:

"Management at the plant have allowed a month for consultation with employee representatives and business partners. The Government must use this month to step in and save the jobs at the Smurfit paper mill in Clonskeagh while at the same time making a valuable contribution to the fledgling recycling industry.

"The lack of a market for recyclables has often been stated as an obstacle to recycling. Central government must intervene to create markets for recyclables. The Minister for Environment, Heritage & Local Government must introduce regulations under existing legislation to require a producer of a product to use recycled materials in the productions of the product, or by limiting the use of virgin material in such production.

"I would call on the Minister apply these regulations, in the first instance, to the use of used newsprint in the production of new newspapers. Creating such specifications will serve to create a market for recyclables therefore create a market for companies such as Smurfits while at the same time saving the state and councils the expense incurred in disposing of this waste.

"The bottom line is that the Government must learn from their mistakes of the past when dealing with companies such as the IGB in Ringsend when they failed to step in and missed the opportunity to save jobs and while at the same time helping the recycling industry." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for a halt to the practice of cutting annual hospital budgets as a penalty for alleged inefficiency. Commenting on figures released by the Department of Health and Children showing hospitals have had their budgets cut by €7.5 million, Deputy Ó Caoláin said that the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney was "penalising patients and plunging struggling hospitals into further trouble".

Deputy Ó Caoláin pointed out that the North Eastern region (Cos. Cavan, Monaghan, Meath and Louth) had suffered more proportionally than any other region. Budget cuts for hospitals in Monaghan, Cavan, Navan and Drogheda amount to over €1 million. When the extra funding for Louth General Hospital is taken into account the net loss to the hospital services in the region is over €650,000. Describing this as "punitive in the extreme", Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Minister Harney is effectively punishing patients for the alleged inefficiency of hospitals and plunging struggling hospitals into further trouble. The North East region is suffering more than any other region in proportion to its population. Monaghan General Hospital has seen service after service taken away from it and its budget has now been cut by €368,606. Cavan General Hospital, which has had to cope with the added burden after the closure of the Monaghan maternity and A&E units is to be cut by €346,384.

"The staff working in these hospitals have been heroic in their efforts to cope with the healthcare needs of the region in the face of Government neglect. This has included cuts in services in the region as well as the State-wide shortage of nurses, the under-provision of acute beds and ongoing problems with deployment of consultants. In this context how can it be fair and in the interests of patients to deem certain hospitals inefficient, cut their budgets and award that funding to other - and mostly larger - hospitals?

"This system is more akin to awarding bonuses and penalties to production managers in factories than to a health system and for that reason is much favoured by Minister Harney. It should be scrapped." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on all-Ireland development, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has welcomed the announcement of details of an accord between major US and Irish research institutes north and south.

Mr McElduff said:

"Across the island it is vital that we develop deeper links and greater co-operation, particularly economic links and between learning and research centres.

"The signing of this accord on all-Ireland - US research and development links is also important given the precarious nature and unsustainability of the northern economy in the medium to long term and given the worrying trends that are emerging showing a downturn in 6 county R&D expenditure.

"While there has been greater investment by the universities and greater numbers of people employed in R&D in the north there is no escaping the consequences of an overall 6.6% decrease in R&D expenditure.

"The fact that there is a fall of £40 million in R&D within the business sector, particularly within manufacturing should send out a very serious warning to government that there is a sustained drift away from investment in these key areas in R&D. There needs to be a coherent strategic focus on how business is supported and encouraged to invest more in R&D.

"The future economic success of the economy demands that there is greater government led action to ensure that innovation can be developed and fully realised, particularly within indigenous businesses and within the manufacturing sector." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has this morning said that if the European Union is serious about addressing racism then it must "tackle individual, societal and institutional discrimination rather than focussing exclusively on hate symbols".

Ms McDonald made her comments after reports suggested that the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU was planning to begin negotiations on a law to combat racism and xenophobia within the EU.

Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:

"Racial intolerance is all too prevalent within society today. In fact, a recent report by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI), has clearly shown that within the past six months there has been a worrying upsurge in the reported incidents of racist attacks in Ireland.

"The onus is on each and every one of us, but particularly on public representatives and opinion leaders to work together to find the most effective ways of tackling the rise of racism.

"Reports that suggest that the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU is to begin negotiations on a law to combat racism and xenophobia should be welcomed. However, Sinn Féin believes that that if the European Union is serious about addressing racism then it must tackle individual, societal and institutional racism and discrimination rather than focussing exclusively on hate symbols.

"If only it were a simple matter of banning a hate symbol to effectively address the root causes of racism and xenophobia. But a symbol or insignia is not capable of carrying out a racist attack, it is the person or group who wears or uses such a symbol. Therefore it is about challenging mindsets and speaking out against racism wherever we find it - whether from neighbours or colleagues or powerful policy-makers or the media. It also means ensuring that anti racism legislation is effective and providing adequate resourcing and support for ethnic minority communities and their support groups.

"On this, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the condemnation of racist attacks is not enough. We need to actively work for the removal of racism from our society. I would call upon the EU to pursue a multi-faceted approach to tackling discrimination." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Vice President, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has said that sanctions and the politics of exclusion will not move the peace process forward.

Mr Doherty said:

"Does anyone seriously believe that sanctions, exclusion or discrimination will do anything to move us forward? Of course not.

"Those advocating exclusion are working to their own narrow agendas. They are ignoring the reality that Sinn Fein's right to participation in the political process stems from our substantial electoral mandate. In contrast to Sinn Fein, the British government has no mandate in Ireland and it has no right to sanction or discriminate against those chosen by the Irish electorate to represent them. These are the failed policies of the past.

"Whatever about the current situation the reality is that we will only make progress on the basis of dialogue, inclusivity, negotiation and accommodation." ENDS

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