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


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Sinn Féin will hold the final press conference of the election campaign tomorrow, Wednesday 9th June, at 10.30am in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin.

Attending the press conference will be Gerry Adams MP, Pat Doherty MP and EU candidates Mary Lou McDonald and David Cullinane.

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Dublin Sinn Féin candidate Mary Lou McDonald has claimed that the findings of a survey by the Food Safety Authority proves that the current EU regulations governing the labelling of GM foods are inadequate.

Ms. McDonald was referring to an FSAI survey that showed some food companies were falsely claiming that their products were GM free.

Ms. McDonald said: "The findings of this survey were given to the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD in response to a Dáil question. A further enquiry revealed that no action was taken against those companies found to be in breach of the regulations.

"What this proves is that the current EU regulatory regime is inadequate. The only reliable way in which to protect Irish consumers from GM is for this country to be declared a GM free zone. Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for this at local, national and EU level as outlined in our comprehensive policy document For a GM Free Ireland." ENDS

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Download: Sinn Féin Senior Citizens Charter 2004

Social Inclusion

Sinn Féin believes that creating the conditions for an equal society means recognising that many diverse groups need enhanced protection from the state.

Sinn Féin recognises that senior citizens have made a lifetime contribution to our society through their work, their taxes and voluntary work in their communities but the standard of living of many of our senior citizens does not meet their needs or reflect the contribution they make.

Poverty has no place in our society yet the incomes of many senior citizens are falling radically behind that of society as a whole. Our senior citizens, many of whom have been forced to retire, are living on inadequate pensions and struggling with spiraling costs of living. They also have to battle against society's attitudes towards those marginalised, particularly as a result of low income.

It is vital that mechanisms are developed to properly value and recognise the lifelong contribution of our senior citizens to society as a whole and to social cohesion.

While senior citizens have concerns and needs particular to their personal circumstances their concern is also for society as a whole. The quality of life for their children and grandchildren, for the following generations, is as important to them as their own welfare.

Sinn Féin believes that we need to support senior citizens in realising their vital role in our communities - we are all the losers without their contribution. This means addressing issues such as low income, access to transport, health, education and housing and ensuring that the voices of senior citizens are heard.

Living in safety

Increasingly sheltered accommodation and complexes for senior citizens are clustered away from the wider community creating isolation and difficulties in full participation in our communities. This isolation, especially in rural areas, also helps foster vulnerability or a sense of vulnerability. We need to see:

  • A better mix in new build public housing developments
  • The design of new public housing to embrace the concept of life-long living
  • The implementation of measures to enable elderly people to continue living in their own home where this is their preference
  • The design of street lighting and roads must prioritise a safer environment
  • Proper security and upkeep of local authority housing complexes for the elderly.

Making resources available to improve security in the homes of senior citizens improves both safety and the sense of security. However, such measures only deal with the symptoms. They are not a cure for the problem of increasing attacks on the elderly. Turning homes into fortresses is not a long-term solution to the problem of isolation, alienation or vulnerability. Resources and actions need to be targeted to support communities in challenging the violence of those who target our senior citizens and a coordinated practical plan to encourage senior citizens to lead an active life needs to be a central element in combating social exclusion. It is essential that there is a consultation process with Senior Citizens on all issues pertaining to their and their wider community's welfare.

Education

The education system must have mechanisms for young people to recognise at an early stage the value and experience of senior citizens. Legislators and education providers should ensure that the concept of lifelong learning becomes a reality.

Transport

Senior citizens are at greater risk of suffering from social isolation so it is essential that they have access to accessible, safe transport. They are major users of public transport as many do not have access to a car. The planning of all aspects of transportation should ensure that barriers to accessing services, employment and volunteering, educational, recreational and social opportunities are removed. To enhance the social inclusion, Sinn Féin calls for:

  • Extension of free public transport for pensioners throughout the island
  • Easier access to the Government subsidised Rural Transport Initiative, which is vital for the survival and well being of people in rural communities
  • Voucher scheme to allow older people entitled to free public transport to avail of private transport where there is no adequate public transport system.

A voice in decision-making

Ministerial responsibility that specifically deals with the rights and entitlements of senior citizens - that drives strategy and decision-making and can take action across all departments, must put the rights of the senior citizen at the heart of decision making. It would also create a mechanism for direct democratic responsibility and accountability. A cross-departmental working group can effectively deal with the many crosscutting issues that affect our senior citizens.

Ending poverty

There are almost 500,000 people over 65 living in this state and according to figures released in 2000 43.3% of them were living below the 60% income poverty line. Last December's increase of 10 Euro in the old age pension by the government is totally inadequate. On top of this we have the second highest seasonal variation in mortality in Europe, with suggestions that fuel poverty could be a factor in as many as 2000 winter deaths each year and among the worst affected by fuel poverty are older people living alone. Sinn Féin proposes

  • Linking old age pensioners' social insurance contributions to inflation to ensure a sufficient
  • standard of living
  • Retrospective pension credits for those who spent their working lives caring for others
  • New legislation on age discrimination resulting from the EU directive on equal treatment that will come into force by 2006 must also address the rights of senior citizens
  • Statutory funding for voluntary agencies such as Meals on Wheels

Service Provision

Many of the issues that must be addressed in promoting social inclusion are related to the provision of quality services and to accessing quality services. This state has the lowest spend on social services in Europe. In 1999 for the EU as a whole spending on social services amounted to 27.5% of GDP, while in this state the figures was 14.5% of GDP. Equal access has to be given to senior citizens in all areas of life. Facilities must be provided to encourage the use of banks, post offices, all health facilities and all public offices, bus stops and railway stations, including more seating and better lighting. Access to services and facilities must be improved, pedestrian crossings should allow a longer time for crossing and improvements in maintenance of pavements should be prioritized including, when necessary, the clearing of ice and snow. Lowering speed limits in residential areas may also contribute to safety.

The provision of quality services includes indirect services such as research. More money invested in research into the prevention and cure of Alzheimer's and dementia could both create substantial savings in the cost of caring for sufferers and relieve huge levels of trauma faced by senior citizens, their families and friends.

Well resourced health care for older people must be a priority. Sinn Féin will:

  • Campaign for an end to the two tier health system
  • Support the retention and further development of the maximum range of services at local hospitals and the provision of quality hospital care for all, regardless of income or geographic location
  • Demand restoration of services to those hospitals where units such as A&E have been closed down.
  • Press for the delivery of promised primary care services
  • Extension of medical card eligibility to all those over 65
  • Funding to health boards to restore all Home Help hours cut back in 2002/2003

Recognition of Care Work

The needs of carers must be addressed and funding must be made available for appropriate support, including day care provision, respite care and domestic aids. We commend the Carers' Association for providing a loud and strong voice for tens of thousands of fulltime,and many more part-time carers. The issue has been placed higher on the political agenda than ever before.Carers must be recognised for the work that they do. Their work saves the State incalculable amounts ofmoney. Sinn Féin calls for:

  • The abolition of the means test for full-time carers
  • Replacement of the present Carer's Allowance with an expanded payment scheme that properly recognises the value of carers' work
  • The modification of the social welfare system to give recognition for benefits to those who have worked in the home
  • Increase the Carers Allowance to the same rate as that provided to Foster Carers

Sinn Féin main recommendations

  • Linking old age pensioners' social insurance contributions to inflation to ensure a sufficient
  • standard of living
  • Retrospective pension credits for those who spent their working lives caring for others
  • The abolition of the means test for full-time carers
  • Well resourced health care for older people must be a priority
  • Extension of free public transport for pensioners throughout the island
  • A better mix in new build public housing developments
  • Easier access to the Government subsidised Rural Transport Initiative, which is vital for the
  • survival and well being of people in rural communities
  • Year on year targets to eliminate unnecessary deaths from cold
  • Design of streets and roads should ensure a safe environment for senior citizens
  • An adequate level of nursing care in residential accommodation
  • Extension of resources available for home security
  • More resources for community based initiatives that promote social inclusion

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Download: Sinn Féin Senior Citizens Charter 2004

Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe speaking at the launch of the party's Charter for Senior Citizens has pledged that Sinn Féin will support and actively pursue the political and legislative changes necessary to establish a decent standard of living, full access to services and the right of senior citizens to fully participate in the life of their community. Deputy Crowe said:

"In putting forward our Charter for Senior Citizens, Sinn Féin pledges that we will support and actively pursue the political and legislative changes necessary to establish a decent standard of living, full access to services and the right of senior citizens to fully participate in the life of their community.

"After a lifetime contribution to our society through their work, taxes and voluntary work in their communities we have to question how governments, who have benefited from these contributions, have repaid senior citizens.

"Poverty should have no place in our society yet the incomes of many senior citizens are falling radically behind that of the community as a whole. Our senior citizens are living on inadequate pensions, struggling with spiralling costs of living and inadequate access to public services.

"What is required is action and commitments across a broad range of policy areas. Action that supports community initiatives that challenge the violence of those who target our senior citizens and we need to support senior citizens in realising their vital role in our communities - we are all the losers without their contribution."ENDS

Senior citizens amongst the most excluded members of society - Dessie Ellis

Dublin City Sinn Féin Councillor Dessie Ellis has today said that "senior citizens are amongst the most excluded members of our society, and more needs done to protect their rights." Councillor Ellis was speaking as Sinn Féin unveiled its policy document entitled: "Rights for All, A Charter for Senior Citizens" Speaking today, Councillor Ellis said:

"This Charter for Senior Citizens has been produced following consultation with many groups and individuals working in this area. It sets out Sinn Féin‚s priorities across a whole range of issues including social inclusion, living in safety, transport, ending poverty and service provision.

"Almost half of those over 65 in this state are living in poverty and a quarter are living alone. The result is senior citizens are amongst the most excluded and vulnerable members of our society and more needs to be done to protect their rights.

"Sinn Féin is calling for greater social inclusion for senior citizens but this won't happen without a co-ordinated practical plan to bring this about. We have to ensure that housing for senior citizens is integrated into the community and not clustered away in isolation. We need to ensure that senior citizens have a sufficient standard of living and access to health, education and public transport. We also need to put in place support services to ensure that senior citizens can lead an active life, something which is a central element in combating social exclusion.

"The government need to take this issue seriously. We are calling for ministerial responsibility that specifically deals with the rights and entitlements of senior citizens - that drives strategy and decision making and can take actions across all departments and which puts the rights of the senior citizen at the heart of decision making."ENDS

Sinn Féin main recommendations:

  • Linking old age pensioners‚ social insurance contributions to inflation to ensure a sufficient standard of living
  • The abolition of the means test for full-time carers
  • Extension of free public transport for pensioners throughout the island
  • A better mix in new build public housing developments
  • Easier access to the Government subsidised Rural Transport Initiative
  • Year on year targets to eliminate unnecessary deaths from cold
  • Design of streets and roads should ensure a safe environment for senior citizens
  • An adequate level of nursing care in residential accommodation
  • Extension of resources available for home security
  • More resources for community based initiatives that promote social inclusion

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Sinn Fein's candidate in the forthcoming European Elections for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald has called for an investigation into milk prices following a report in Britain that found over a third of the price of a litre of milk was unaccounted for.

Ms McDonald said: "The report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee in Westminster makes for interesting reading. Of the fifty pence a British consumer pays for a litre of milk, 18 pence, well over a third of the cost, is unaccounted for.

"The report goes on to claim this sum of money is swallowed up in unexplained costs by the dairy processing companies. With a litre of milk more expensive here in Ireland than for our British neighbours, surely there is scope for a similar investigation into the price of milk in Ireland?

"I am calling on the Government to support an investigation by the Dail Committee on Agriculture and Food into pricing in the dairy industry and the effect it has on consumers." ENDS

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Sinn Féin North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty has this morning called upon the electorate on the five islands off the coast of Donegal to "help Sinn Féin make history in the forthcoming EU elections". Mr Doherty made his call as voters on the five islands vote ahead of the rest of the state, so that the ballot boxes can be returned to the mainland.

Speaking this morning, Mr Doherty said:

"Sinn Féin is calling upon the people of Arannmore, Tory, Inishfree, Gola, and Inisboffin to help Sinn Féin make history in the forthcoming EU elections, by electing the first Sinn Féin MEP for the North West constituency. On a wider level, Sinn Féin is hoping to elect an all Ireland team of Sinn Féin MEPs to represent people the length and breadth of this island, and indeed our islands off the mainland.

"Sinn Féin wants to bring about an Ireland of equals in a Europe of equals.

"Sinn Féin will continue to fight on behalf of rural communities, which have consistently been under-funded and under-resourced. We support the rights of all, regardless of region of residence, to equal access to public service provision and are opposed to any attempt to cutback on education, health, transport and postal services.

"Sinn Féin is calling upon the electorate to help us make history in the North West constituency by electing a Sinn Féin MEP, a real alternative to the current political status quo." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, who is in Galway with North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty said "It is clear that the decentralisation plan unveiled by the Minister for Finance last December is unravelling. It was ill-thought out, badly planned and produced without any consultation and ignores the need for a real programme for rural development."

Mr. Adams said:

"It is clear that the decentralisation plan unveiled by the Minister for Finance last December is unravelling. It was ill-thought out, badly planned and produced without any consultation and ignores the need for a real programme for rural development.

"Sinn Féin believes that every person, no matter where they live, should have equal access to public services; be that health, transport, education, post offices or banking. The reality for many rural communities is very different. Many of these services are either non-existent or have been withdrawn from these communities. That is clearly illustrated by the health crisis within the regions.

"The government have completely failed to fulfil the commitments, which they made in their White Paper on Rural Development. Their National Spatial Strategy, which was supposed to address the imbalance in employment, was strong on commitments, weak on delivery. The three main gateway centres into rural Ireland in the National Development Plan are Galway, Waterford and Limerick but in each of those cities, unemployment has risen since 2002.

"Public services in rural areas are under siege as the privatisation agenda is implemented. Government promises to rural-proof all state-wide policies are worthless as rural post-offices and rural areas continue to be left without access to public transport.

"Empowering rural communities - decentralisation - does not just mean the relocation of Government offices from Dublin - it means the real empowerment of local government. This is especially important for many of our marginalised and neglected rural communities, particularly in the Western region, Border and Midlands." ENDS

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Sinn Féin will launch a Charter for Senior Citizens tomorrow, Tuesday 7th June, at 12.30pm in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Attending the press conference will be Sean Crowe TD, Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald and Councillor Dessie Ellis.

Following the press conference Ógra Shinn Féin will unveil a satrical poster campaign to highlight the government failures.

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Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh will tomorrow attend a press conference organised by the 'Alliance for No vote' calling for the electorate to vote No in the forthcoming Citizenship Referendum. Representatives of approximately 40 groups will be in attendance at tomorrow morning‚s press conference, which will take place at the Shelbourne Hotel Dublin.

Speaking today, Deputy O Snodaigh said:

"The 'Alliance for No vote' campaign are calling upon people to vote No in the forthcoming Citizenship Referendum on 11th June 2004. Sinn Féin is in full support of this position.

"Sinn Féin believes that this referendum will place inequality at the heart of the Irish Constitution. The government are using the referendum as a smokescreen for their ineptitude and failures over the past number of years. This referendum fundamentally undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and it comes as no surprise that the DUP has welcomed it.

"We are urging people to vote No to the racist referendum on the 11th June." ENDS

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Sinn Fein MLA for North Belfast, Kathy Stanton, has said that nationalists are concerned about the growing number of loyalist attacks coming into the summer. She has also called on unionist leaders to do whatever is in their power to ensure a peaceful summer can be enjoyed by all. Speaking today Ms Stanton said:

"This weekend there was an attempted stabbing outside the Boundary Bar in Bawnmore by loyalists, some of whom were wearing Celtic tops, a ploy used by loyalists before. In the past three weeks a number of sizable holes have been deliberately cut in the interface fence at Newington and today we see a team of Catholic workmen attacked and their van having all its windows smashed on the Oldpark Road.

"It is certainly ominous that all these attacks have occurred in such a short space of time in different areas across North Belfast. I would strongly urge all nationalists to be cautious and extremely vigilant in the coming weeks. We are entering the marching season and this is well known a time when loyalists up the ante.

"I would also call on those leaders in the unionist community who have said that they will not talk to republicans at interface areas, or those who have stated that they will not be working to ensure that we can have a peaceful summer, to think realistically what that will achieve.

"We need all representatives, community workers and statutory agencies working flat out to realize that the summer need not be overshadowed by the threat of violence." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East, Daithí Doolan, speaking today in response to the government's announcement that they were allocating 1.1 million euros in capital funding to Local Drugs Task Forces has slammed what he calls, "Minister Noel Ahern's multi million euro election ploy."

Mr. Doolan said, "While of course this money is badly needed it is also long over due and wholly inadequate. Those of us involved in tackling the causes and consequences of drug addiction have long called for proper funding to made available. Yet here we are, once again, only days away from an election witnessing an election ploy by Fianna Fáil. This money could and indeed should have been made available over recent years. The money has been in the Dormant Account, now it is being used to win elections.

This government has one of the worst track records of social inclusion and this cynical attempt to reclaim themselves will not go unnoticed. Here in the inner city it is too little too late. Our communities do not need election stunts with Minister's attempting to reduce the problem to simply one of a hand outs at election time. We need an increase in health board spending to combat an ever increasing cocaine problem in Dublin, we need long term investment in existing projects, we need a holistic approach to a complex problem."

Mr. Doolan concluded by calling on the Minister, " to desist from electioneering and deal with the drug problem in a proper long term strategic way which must involve consultation, investment and resources." ENDS

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Speaking today at a womens endorsement event for Bairbre de Brún MLA, Derry City councillor Mary Nelis said that she 'was proud and honoured to have been asked to formally endorse Bairbre's candidature for the upcoming EU elections'. The event took place at Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast.

Ms Nelis said:

"I am honoured and delighted to have been asked to say a few words about my comrade and good friend Bairbre de Brún. I know only to well the many barriers which stand in the way of women playing a full part in political and community life.

"One of the most important ways of overcoming the under representation of women is providing young women today with positive and strong role models whom they can look up to and aspire to. If younger women see that old hands like us can do it then they will know that they too can achieve whatever it is they want, in political, community or any other aspect of public life.

"As someone who has known Bairbre throughout all of this period I am both honoured and humbled to have been asked to endorse her candidature today. Bairbre is a committed and determined republican. She will take all of these skills to the European parliament. But more importantly she will take her compassion, her humility and her strong commitment to the all Ireland and equality agendas to everything she does.

"On June 10th, we have an opportunity to elect one of the great women in modern Irish politics to the European parliament. As the old saying goes, on that day, may the best woman win." ENDS

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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has called on political leaders to speak out against the intimidation of political activists after the home of senior Sinn Féin member Michael Agnew and another home were targeted by unionist paramilitaries in Ballymena.

Mr Adams said:

"I want express my outrage at these two attacks this morning on the homes of two people living in Ballymena.Across the north there has been a significant increase in attacks on Sinn Fein members and elected representatives. Political leaders should speak out against the intimidation of political activists.

"These attacks will not deflect Sinn Fein's commitment to achieving peace or in delivering Irish reunification. They will not deter Sinn Féin from defending the Agreement or in delivering the agenda for change required to transform society on this island." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald, will this afternoon participate in the annual Flora Women's Mini Marathon 2004. Participants are due to assemble at Stephens Green East at 1.00pm for the commencement of the marathon at 2.00pm.

Ms McDonald is taking part in the event to raise money for Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross which is 125 years old this year.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking from Galway this morning extended his sympathies to the family and friends of Simon Cumbers who was killed in Saudi Arabia yesterday.

Mr. Adams said:

"I want to extend my sympathies to the family and friends of Simon Cumbers who was killed in Riyadh yesterday. Simon was well known to those involved in the peace process over the last ten years and I recently spoke with him in London when he covered a press conference organised by families of people killed as a result of colllusion. Simon was a well respected journalist and will be missed by all those who knew him."ENDS

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Sinn Fein North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty, addressing public meetings in Galway today, has said that the 'Sinn Fein Agenda for Change is hitting home with people throughout the North West of Ireland'. Mr Doherty said:

"Throughout Ireland people are rejecting the failed politics of the establishment. They are rejecting the cronyism and the right-wing agenda of the government that has failed to share the wealth generated in the last decade.

"Everywhere people are saying it is time for change. It is time that we had politicians who listened to people and took their views seriously. People want to see an end to the corruption and sleaze that has become the trademark of the establishment politicians and their friends.

"People are telling me that Sinn Fein's 'Agenda for Change' is something that they believe in and that they believe that Sinn Fein will stand up to the vested interests in the war on inequality.

"When people like the PDs say they want inequality. Sinn Féin reject that type of politics. That is why they are worried.

"At the heart of Sinn Fein's election campaign has been our commitment to the agenda for change; our determination to challenge the status quo and our promise that we will not take people for granted.

"Sinn Fein is determined to see official status for the Irish language. This alone can only be a first step - much greater commitments are required to see our native language further develop. Sinn Fein wants to see real investment to meet the needs of the North West now. Not more empty promises about investment in some far off distant future.

"There are also huge changes in terms of agriculture and fishing that will have an enormous impact on rural Ireland. These communities must be an equal partner in developing the new common agricultural and fishing policies.

"We will only deliver that future for the North West if we have an agenda for change that challenges the way things have been done in the past. The Sinn Fein 'Agenda for Change' is hitting home. It has our political opponents worried. They are right to be worried because the stronger the mandate for Sinn Féin the greater our ability to bring about change." ENDS

Full text of Speech

Throughout the island of Ireland people are rejecting the failed politics of the establishment. They are rejecting the cronyism. They are rejecting the

right-wing agenda of the government that has failed to share the wealth generated in the last decade.

Everywhere I have been - and I have crisscrossed these nine North West counties many times over - people are saying the same thing to me. It is time for

change. It is time that the North West received its fair share of investment. It is time that we had politicians who listened to people and took their views seriously.

People want to see an end to the corruption and sleaze that has become the trademark of the establishment politicians and their friends. People are telling me that Sinn Fein's 'Agenda for Change' is something that they believe in and that they believe that Sinn Fein will stand up to the vested interests in the war on inequality. When people like the PDs and their friends say they want inequality. Sinn Féin reject that politics. That is why they are afraid.

At the heart of Sinn Fein's election campaign - at EU and at local government level has been our commitment to the agenda for change; our determination to challenge the status quo and our promise that we will not take people for granted; that we will deliver for marginalised communities.

The EU election comes at a crucial time in the development of Europe. I know that many people do not share Sinn Fein's sense of urgency when we say that it is vital that the current direction of Europe is questioned.

Yes Europe has brought many important advances that have benefited people in Ireland, particularly in terms of EU funding and important steps forward in

the protection of workers rights, for women, disabled people and the elderly and also in terms of the environment and the benefits of Objective One status.

There are also many serious questions about how the EU wants to develop. And there are many powerful vested interests that will not specifically work in

favour of the sovereign rights of smaller nations. There are those who want to dilute the protections of rights for ordinary people in favour of big business and the interests of some of the larger economic powers.

This election is about the choice of electing someone the EU that will not disappear off into the Euroland - the chance to elect someone who will make

the EU and the important decisions that are taken there real and relevant to people here in the North West of Ireland where they will have a huge impact.

As I have said the EU has delivered benefits and there are great opportunities to bring further benefits to the North West. But the full potential of these benefits has not been realised.

The North West has not had the investment in infrastructure that was promised and is required to sustain and bring in new jobs. In my on townland

in Donegal unemployment is four times the national average. We have had the empty promises and they have been nothing more than that. This government

has delivered nothing except empty promises that mean nothing the day after the election.

The Hanly report threatens regional hospital services across Ireland. Housing stands as a national disgrace. Communities have not seen the commitment to education, to jobs, to the social infrastructure that they need to allow them to get up off their knees. Yes the rich have got richer. But that is not sustainable.

Getting it right locally, nationally and in Europe will all create the opportunity to bring about real change right here for communities in Galway; or in Donegal, Mayo, Clare or Belfast, Dublin or Derry.

Sinn Fein is determined to see official status for the Irish language. This alone can only be a first step - much greater commitments are required to see our native language further develop.

Sinn Fein want to see real investment to meet the needs of the North West now. Not more empty promises about investment in some far off distant

future.

There are huge changes in terms of agriculture and fishing that will have an enormous impact on rural Ireland. The experience and expertise - the voice

of these communities must be taken as an equal partner in developing the new common agricultural and fishing policies.

I want a future for myself and the community I live in. That means that people need to use the power they have. In this election there is

the democratic opportunity to make a real difference. Not just be giving Sinn Fein your first preference in the EU and local government election but

maximising your vote and backing every candidate that will delivery for the communities and parts of this island that have been marginalised and ignored.

We will only deliver that future for the North West if we have an agenda for change. An agenda that challenges the way things have been done in the past.

Everywhere I have been these last couple of months I can see that people want change. That the Sinn Fein 'Agenda for Change' is hitting home. It has

our political opponents worried. And they are right to be worried because the stronger the mandate for Sinn Féin and others who oppose the establishment the greater our ability to bring about change. ENDS

Note to Editors

North West EU election candidate Pearse Doherty was joined on the campaign trail by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP and local government candidates (Sinn Fein are standing in 10 out of 11 local government electoral contests in County Galway) in Galway City on Monday 7th June. Campaign trail

itinerary: Arrival Galway Airport; Public meeting, Ballybane Community Resource Centre; City Centre Canvas; Public meeting, St Josephs Community Centre.

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy has accused the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde of deliberately misleading the public over the disappearance of Armagh man Gareth O'Connor. Mr Murphy's comments come after Crown Prosecutors admitted in court that Mr. O'Connor was linked to the PSNI Special Branch.

Mr Murphy said:

"Last year Hugh Orde in a well planned media intervention declared that he believed that the IRA was involved in the disappearance of Armagh man Gareth O'Connor, this despite the fact that the IRA had denied all knowledge of this. This intervention was clearly planned to cause the maximum political disruption possible to the peace process. His intervention was latched onto by the predictable anti-Republican elements in the media and elsewhere.

" What Hugh Orde failed to declare was that Mr. O'Connor had been working closely with the PSNI Special Branch and that he had in his possession two mobile telephones provided by his officers. On Friday the PSNI slapped a Public Interest Immunity Certificate on the case. It is clear that the PSNI have information relating to Mr. O'Connor which they wish to keep from his f amily and the rest of the general public.

" Hugh Orde was clearly aware of the relationship between his organisation and Mr O'Connor when he made his public intervention. Hugh Orde now needs to explain his position. He needs to tell us why he deliberately misled the public about this matter. He needs to explain why he made the political intervention he did. He needs to provide to the family of Mr O'Connor all of the information relating to this case which he is presently hiding.

" This case again demonstrates the malign influence that Special Branch continues to have over policing in the six counties. The use of the Public Interest Immunity Certificate shows that the culture of concealment is alive and well at the heart of Orde's PSNI. Mr Orde and those who provide his political cover cannot continue to be allowed to ignore cases like this. They need to tell us how political policing of this kind fits into their model of an accountable and acceptable policing service." ENDS

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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP will join North West EU election candidate Pearse Doherty and local government candidates on the campaign trail in Galway City tomorrow, Monday 7th June. Mr Adams and Mr Doherty will be available to speak to the media at 1.45pm (aprox) during the City Centre Canvas.

Campaign trail itinerary

Arrival Galway Airport 10am

Public meeting

Ballybane Community Resource Centre 11am

City Centre Canvas

Shop Street and Quay Street 1.20pm

Public meeting

St Josephs Community Centre, Shantalla 2pm

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Sinn Féin is holding a womens endorsement event for our EU candidate Bairbre de Brún MLA. The event will take place on Monday June 7th at 11.00 in the Orueam Baths Gallery, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast. In attendance will be Bairbre de Brún MLA, Michelle Gildrenew MP, Cllr Mary Nelis and a cross section of republican women from the political and community sectors.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking in advance of today's radiotherapy rally in Waterford said the government should be ashamed of its heartless treatment of cancer patients throughout the state. Mr Adams said: "Seriously ill patients, from children to senior citizens, are being forced to travel long distances to Cork City week in and week out for treatment. The government has failed these people." Mr. Adams met with the march organisers in Waterford at lunchtime.

Mr Adams said:

"It is absolutely outrageous that people with serious illnesses are being forced to travel hundreds of miles to receive the most basic life saving treatment.

"If you take the South East as an example - the area has a population of 450,000 people but doesn't have its own Radiotherapy Unit. Seriously ill patients, from children to senior citizens, are being forced to travel long distances to Cork City week in and week out for treatment. The government has failed these people. The centralisation of radiotherapy in Dublin, Cork and Galway places an intolerable burden on families and this situation is exacerbated by the three months delay which now exists for public patients.

"This government has presided over a completely unequal health care system. Instead of delivering on the promises they made before the general election to provided more medical cards, more hospital beds and better care, they have given us the Hanly Report, which strips away services from already under-funded and under-resourced hospitals.

"People are suffering and dying unnecessarily, because this government can't get its act together and run a proper health service. The government needs to look beyond population templates and arbitrary quotas and look at the reality on the ground for people. What is required and what people want is accessible care in their region based on the actual conditions, not theoretical figures. The government must make it a priority to provide radiotherapy services to the regions which have been deprived of them for so long."ENDS

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