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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 Chairperson Mitchal McLaughlin today addressed the INCORE conference at the waterfront Hall in Belfast. In his speech Mr McLaughlin challenged the British government to meet the demands of the peace process and said that 'current British policy perpetuates an institutionalised inequality and many unionists consequently see no imperative to co-operate with or to promote the concept of reform or change'.

Full Text of Mitchel McLaughlin's Speech

" Thirty years ago Ireland was engulfed in a spiralling and tragic conflict. Here in the North, the IRA was building up its campaign, internment without trial was in force and the British Army was on the rampage throughout nationalist areas. British forces were openly colluding with loyalists paramilitaries and had bombed Dublin and Monaghan in May, killing 33 people. That same month, the Sunningdale Executive collapsed after the then Labour Government capitulated to the strike staged by the Ulster Workers‚ Council. Loyalist paramilitaries with the active support of many leading members of both Unionist Parties, kept workers out of their workplaces and mounted patrols and checkpoints under the noses of the RUC and British Army. Loyalist death squads carried out sectarian killings at will. In Parkhurst Prison, Michael Gaughan died on Hunger Strike on the 3rd June of that year. But in Dublin, the Irish government demonstrated no concern for the behaviour of the British Government or its security agencies but instead focussed its‚ energy in combating the IRA!

" That was then and who nowadays would risk a return to that nightmare or invite a repeat of that conflict ridden history? The media recently has been full of the events of ten years ago when the IRA declared a complete cessation of military operations. There was much analysis and not a little revisionism as we remember the howls of protest at that time of the prospect of inclusive negotiations. Indeed some are still howling, or so it seems.

" A lot has changed since that dramatic event but more needs to be done to achieve a stable and democratic future.

" We have all, British and Irish, been victims of a historic tension that has poisoned relationships between our islands. Our history on this island, and our relationship with our closest neighbour, has been difficult and at times destructive. The shared history of tragic conflict is ample testimony to all of that.

" But what of the future and the achievement of a more peaceful co-existence?It seems obvious to me that the British government has a blind spot in accepting that its present policy of upholding the Union constitutes an obstacle to a comprehensive resolution of the conflict or indeed effective community relations. History makes prisoners of Governments as well as political movements and community organisations. Sinn Féin negotiators will once again seek to persuade that so long as the British government holds to this position; it subverts the spirit and substance of the Agreement and is a contradiction of its obligations on Equality and Parity of Esteem.

" The unaccountable ŒNorthern Ireland Office‚ is a particular example of the need for urgent change. The NIO with its in-built Unionist bias runs the six-counties virtually as the old Stormont government. Direct Rule Ministers fly in for a few hours a week simply to rubber stamp decisions pre-formulated by senior Civil Servants.

" Too often, progress on many crucial issues has been obstructed by elements in the Northern Ireland Office which, despite the peace process, has clung to a redundant agenda. Current British policy perpetuates an institutionalised inequality and many unionists consequently see no imperative to co-operate with or to promote the concept of reform or change, so how then could a community relations policy succeed?. Political Unionism continues to rely on a Œprivileged access‚ with official government organs that share and reflect a unionist ethos. And as we have witnessed on many occasions, they can also depend on a flow of leaked confidential Government memo‚s to help put manners on Ministers or to assist in projecting a Unionist analysis of ongoing political developments.

" The absence of an objective community relations policy was furthermore dramatically evident in the events around disputed loyalist parades over recent weeks which undoubtedly had the potential to do calamitous damage to the Peace process had people been killed. This malign and anti-Agreement attitude within the NIO has been underscored by the discovery in recent days that NIO ministers and whoever is pulling their strings had authorised the planting of a bugging device in the home of a Sinn Fein constituency worker.

" Republicans are perplexed and frustrated by the British Governments approach. Are they again following a security driven agenda, controlled and directed by the spooks in the NIO? Despite the commitments of Tony Blair, are elements of his Government still at war in Ireland? Is that why there remains in the North, twice as many British troops as in Iraq and deliberate foot-dragging on the demolishing of the look-out towers? Is it the case that perhaps the British Government cannot deliver on the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement because of the implications of accepting responsibility for murderous collusion with Unionist paramilitaries? Small wonder then that many within the Unionist constituency are generally in favour of the status quo, no matter how undemocratic.

" Current British policy guarantees only continued division and undermines the efforts of those attempting to build non-threatening relationships that would encompass all of our divergent philosophies and aspirations in peace and harmony and that is why the Good Friday Agreement is so vitally important. Under the terms of the Agreement the British government has a duty to guarantee that it is at all times and in all circumstances rigorously impartial in its dealings with Irish nationalism and Unionism. For this scenario to fully develop it is imperative that the British government takes immediate steps to root the spooks out of the NIO and to change its policy to one based on Equality and Parity of Esteem.

" If the British government has any specific obligation to unionists it is to use its influence to persuade them that they have nothing to fear and indeed much to gain from equality. So has the Community Relations project.

Sinn Féin has sought to engage our opponents, to understand their perspective and to develop ways to overcome difficulties and differences. " And, in concert with others, we have had some success. The political landscape on the island has been transformed. The challenge now is to continue the forward movement and not allow the advance we have made to be undermined by complacency, intransigence or a lack of imagination.

Indeed to facilitate the process, Sinn Féin has argued that it is time for the British Government to build a strategic alliance with Irish nationalists to compliment its‚ existing relationship with Unionism.

" Of course there are at present, deep difficulties in the peace process which must be urgently addressed and overcome. Instead of stable political institutions with the people‚s elected representatives making decisions on important social and economic issues; instead of a fully operational Assembly and all-Ireland institutions leading the delivery of change, advancing the equality agenda and championing a human rights based society; we have continuing impasse. Most importantly we do not have the inclusive power-sharing institutions which are central to making politics work for the first time in the north and for the first time on an all-Ireland basis.

" Our task as politicians, as political leaders, is to find a resolution to all of these outstanding matters. There is no alternative. We will have to do it sometime, so why not now? The best way to do this is through direct dialogue, including between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

" The main political objective in the immediate term is of course to establish whether or not the DUP are up for agreeing the sort of holistic package which is necessary to see the political institutions re-established and the other outstanding Good Friday Agreement issues resolved. This is of course proving somewhat difficult given the mixed signals being sent by the DUP over recent weeks.

" However I have to say that the comments made by Peter Robinson regarding the need for the British Government to pay a peace dividend to undo the decades of neglect and under funding mirrors the position which has been advanced by Sinn Féin for many years.

" In every negotiation and indeed within the Executive Sinn Féin argued strongly that all of the local parties needed to adopt a united approach in demanding that the British government deliver a substantial and meaningful peace dividend.

" Sinn Fein believes that it is possible within the terms set out in the Good Friday Agreement to achieve a comprehensive package, which deals with all of the outstanding matters, including those issues that have fixated the Unionist Parties and to do so in a manner that is definitive and conclusive. Of course such a package will require all participants to step up to the plate.

"We need to make politics work as a credible and effective alternative to conflict. That has been the lesson of the last 10 years when peace making replaced conflict. We need to build on what works.

" The enormous progress which we have achieved over the past 10 years is proof positive that an approach based on inclusivity; equality and mutual respect does work. It requires hard work and at times, even harder decisions. But that is the nature of peace making. It is a mammoth task but it has to be finished sometime. Why not now?." ENDS

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Dublin Sinn Féin submission to the review of 'Waste Management: A Strategy for Dublin'
August 2004

Forward

Waste management is one of the major challenges facing us all. We can no longer simply brush the problem under the carpet or indeed burn or bury the problem. But that is where our approach has been fundamentally flawed. We have always viewed 'waste' as something that we must get rid of in the easiest, cheapest way in far off places. That is where our relationship with waste must change. We must view waste as something that is of value, something that is in fact a resource. Only then, will we as a society stop burning and burying it and start reducing, reusing and recycling.

In this submission Sinn Féin hopes to highlight this. We realise we do not have all the answers nor all the solutions. But we do realise that any waste management strategy must have guiding principals. These principals must be:

  • No incineration.
  • Phase out landfill.
  • An all Ireland Waste Strategy.
  • Consultation with, and inclusion of local communities.
  • Waste Strategies must be a reserve function of local authorities.

Sinn Féin aim to continue to work with NGOs, other political parties and our communities to ensure that no incinerators are built in Ireland, landfill becomes a thing of the past and our society becomes a Zero Waste society.

Is mise,

Councillor Daithí Doolan,
Sinn Féin Representative,
Dublin South East.

Introduction

Sinn Féin welcomes the opportunity to participate in the review of 'Waste Management a Strategy for Dublin'. Sinn Féin is committed to the promotion of environmental renewal through investment in reduction, recycling and policies working towards a zero waste economy. Across the 32 counties Sinn Féin activists have been to the fore in campaigns crucial for the harmony of environmental protection and sustainable economic growth by working against the construction of toxic incinerators, bin charges and the proliferation of landfill sites. Where elected our representatives have continued to promote progressive, sustainable solutions to the waste management crisis.

In this submission we will outline our opposition to the ethos underlining the strategy as formed in 1998 and will outline our recommendations for a change of direction for waste management in the Dublin region to one which is sustainable and makes greater environmental and economic sense. Under the current waste management plan this is not the direction which is being taken. We believe that the Dublin region must develop sustainable solutions for the regions waste management crisis based on the wealth of information from many developed waste reduction programmes operating internationally.

The disposal of waste causes a particularly difficult problem for economic and environmental planners in that the more waste that is produced the more resources and expenditure are needed to dispose of that waste. The energy expended in increasing production; the packaging which is seen by manufacturers to be necessary; and the pollution which is created through the whole production process puts great strains on the environment and its sustainability.

Consecutive government policies of increasing the use of incinerators as an alternative to diminishing landfills is a clear example of the inverted approach of detrimentally starting at the bottom of the hierarchy. Such an approach is neither sustainable nor eco-friendly. Sinn Féin is calling for the establishment of an all--Ireland waste management strategy, including an island-wide drive to research and establish markets for reclaimed materials.

Sinn Féin believes that the Waste Management Plan for Dublin must be modified to place the emphasis on to the promotion of strategies at the top of the waste hierarchy (reduction, reuse, recovery where it is without damaging consequences) instead of the status quo which focuses on strategies at the bottom (recovery and disposal).

The fact that 80% of waste, since the adoption of the current waste management plan in December 1998, in the Dublin City Council area is still going to landfill shows that little progress has been made. Given that 136,000 householders in the Dublin City council area are now using green bin or bag service it raises questions regarding enforcement and compliance with the bye-laws regarding segregation.

The fact that the plan has as it's focus is compliance with obligations under EU legislation rather than to bring about the sustainable management of resources in the Dublin Region is a fundamental flaw. The plan is based on the outdated premise that waste is something for which we must find ways to get rid of, rather than viewing it as a resource. It is based on an outdated liner view of waste management rather than trying to close the loop in a cyclical process.

The primary objective must be maximum diversion away from incineration and landfill. Sinn Féin disagrees with the view in the plan that Maximum Realistic Recycling with Thermal Treatment is the "best Practicable Environmental Option, most likely to provide robust sustainable Waste Management System for the region in accordance with legal and practical requirements". We are calling on Dublin Waste Strategy Co-ordination Group to review this conclusion.

We would ask that the Dublin Waste Strategy Co-ordination Group have the courage to accept that the Plan as formed in 1998 with its reliance on incineration will perpetuate the throwaway society, does nothing create a public understanding of waste as a resource, fails to adequately tackle over-packaging and over-consumption and needs to be fundamentally revised.

We would like to utilize this submission to express our dissatisfaction at the fact that as a result of provisions contained in the Waste Management Act 1996 and the Protection of the Environment Act 2003 the making, review, variation or replacement of a waste management plan has become an executive power of the city or county manager. We are calling for reinstatement of this power as a reserved function of democratically elected local representatives.

Sinn Féin believes that Dublin as the capital can and must lead the way for the rest of the country in the drive towards a zero waste solution.

Incineration

The Waste Management Plan states that it seeks to address the "public perception of thermal treatment technologies as unsatisfactory in terms of the impact of recycling and potential atmospheric emissions". Sinn Féin along with communities across Dublin remains opposed to incineration which causes air pollution, the emission of toxic fumes and an increased volume of traffic generated by the transportation of waste to and from incinerators. One other aspect of incineration is that after burning, the remaining ash, which is usually 20-30 per cent of the mass of waste, still needs to be disposed of in landfill. A further approximately 7%, known as fly ash, is classified as toxic waste which cannot even be disposed of in landfill and requires further treatment. In addition, building an incinerator is a large capital cost. Once built, it must be used on a continuous basis, which will 'lock in' incineration as the primary method of waste disposal.

Some particular problems with incineration include:

  • Air emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine, dioxin and fine particulates
  • Emissions of greenhouse gases of CO2 and nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Ash which remains after incineration needs to be disposed of
  • Toxic fly-ash produced through incineration process remains a major problem
  • Increase volume of traffic to and from the incinerator
  • Demands production of waste

Sinn Féin calls for all chemico-energy approaches (landfill & incineration) to waste disposal to be phased out and ultimately abandoned. Sinn Féin calls for the prohibition of the option of incineration or thermal treatment from regional and central waste management plans and strategies.

Sinn Féin proposes that the IR£115 million of the capital investment for the plan intended for the provision of a thermal treatment facility for the region based on the Poolbeg Peninsula be invested in facilitating reduction, reuse and recycling.

Recommendations:

  • Phase out land fill
  • Abandon plans to build an incinerator in Dublin and use capital to invest in reducing, reusing and recycling of waste.

Reduction

In the hierarchy of reduction, re-using, recycling and re-use, reduction remains the most important and yet remains the one which we have made least progress on. The underlying problem is that people will not begin to reduce unless reduction is accessible, there are financial incentives and people understand the necessity for resource conservation. We need to value resources before we understand the need to conserve them. In forming a strategy to bring about reduction we need to seek to facilitate, enable and motivate householders and the corporate sector in order to bring about behavioural change.

The strategy for Dublin needs to place a greater emphasis on reducing the amount of waste that is being created. To date, with the exception of the bag levy, reduction has remained a voluntary choice where nether penalties or levies apply for the failure to address over-consumption, over-packaging and wastage.

Residual waste, once recycling and composting is put in place should consist of those products and substances which cannot or are not easily recycled. This needs to be the primary target of council and government attempts at reduction. The target should be to eliminate residual waste by tackling over packaging and the production of non-recyclable goods. Central government will not act to bring in taxes or prohibitions unless they come under pressure from local authorities in this regard. As the body which will bare the cost of dealing with such waste, it is local authorities own interest to lobby for such measures. Reduction needs to encompass phasing out of products which are not biodegradable, reusable or recyclable.

It is possible for the waste content of consumer good packaging to be substantially reduced and consumer goods redesigned to take account of the problems of disposing of not only the product itself but also, their harmful by-products. Sinn Féin believes that medium and long term targets should be set for reducing the amount of needless paper, cardboard, plastic and metal packaging that is now such a significant feature of most manufactured goods. The costs of this should be borne by the producers and retailers of the goods not the consumer. Sinn Féin also proposes that much greater resources be put in to waste prevention schemes. Sinn Féin calls on the City Council to make a submission to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government asking him to introduce regulations under Section 28 and 29 of the Waste Management Act 1996 to bring about waste prevention and minimisation. The making by the Minister of regulations under the Act of 1996 has the ability to save local authorities considerable revenue by putting responsibility back on producers of waste.

  • Simple changes in how goods are packaged and sold can achieve substantial reductions in the amount of waste we produce. Sinn Féin is calling for regulations provided for under section 29 subsection 4 of the Waste Management Act 1996 to be introduced requiring labelling or marking of products or substances or its packaging so as to identify and specify the composition of the product, substance and packaging; the potential hazards of the product, substance and packaging in the event of its being recovered or disposed of or; the potential of the product substance or packaging to be recovered. This labelling should comparable to the labelling of health risks on cigarette packets. Labelling can also be used to highlight minimally packaged goods.
  • We are calling for the Minister to use his powers to require producer of products which the council has identified as being difficult or impossible to recycle to carry out a life cycle analysis in relation to the product and to prohibit, limit or control the production or use in production of substances which are damaging to the environment or which are not biodegradable or recyclable.
  • We are calling for the Minister to specify requirements to be complied with respects to the design, composition and production of packaging in line with the international standard of eco-labelling.

The aim must be to eliminate secondary packaging such as boxes, plastic wraps and cartons which are totally unnecessary. From the householders point of view in the first instance the Minister should use the provisions to make regulation under section 29 of the Act of 1996 to compel sales outlets to provide free of charge specified facilities for the removal by customers of packaging from products or substances purchased by them at that outlet and receptacles for the deposit of such packaging. He must be lobbied to introduce such regulations. Long term the aim needs to be to make it economically unviable for producers to include such unnecessary secondary packaging.

Recommendations:

  • Greater emphasis on reducing the amount of waste that is created.
  • Medium and long-term targets set to reduce paper, card, plastic and metal packaging.
  • Greater resources to be put in to prevention schemes.
  • Dublin regional local authorities to make representations to Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government to introduce regulations to bring about waste reduction.
  • Labelling to identify specify the composition of the product and it's packaging.
  • Sales outlets to provide facilities for removal of packaging by customers.

Reuse

Sinn Féin is calling for the 4 Dublin Councils to make a submission to the Minister requesting that he introduce regulations under section 29.4(f) of the Waste management Act 1996 requiring a producer, distributor or retailer to operate a deposit refund scheme in relation certain products such as beverage containers, batteries etc made, distributed or sold by him or her. This will create an incentive for people to re-use products.

Sinn Féin is calling for a comprehensive strategy for agricultural waste, concentrating on the biological treatment of waste in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.

Recommendations:

  • Dublin regional local authorities request Minister for Environment to introduce refunding mechanism.
  • Comprehensive strategy for treatment of agricultural waste.

Recycle & Composting

Making it simple and accessible for people to recycle must be central to the Dublin's local authorities waste management strategy.

Source separation has proved to be a key component in the successful diversion of waste from landfill and incineration in other states. Source separation reduces the cost for local authorities who then do not have to finance the sorting of waste for recycling. It also facilitates the recycling process. It has also proved in other jurisdiction to have a beneficial impact in creating a public understanding regarding recyclable products and the value of resources.

Given time, recycling can become the best economic option, as well as the better environment option. For example it is estimated that glass products constitute approximately 7.5 per cent of domestic waste. Recycling reduces the work and expense incurred by local authorities in disposing of this waste. It also reduces the demand for expensive landfill space.

Dublin City Council's 'Bye-law for the collection, storage and presentation of household waste and certain related waste management matters' which came into affect on 01/11/01 makes provision for limited separation of waste into 3 separate fractions. The collection of garden waste and organic kitchen waste has yet to be activated by Dublin City Council

Sinn Féin proposes that the four Dublin councils use the money earmarked for the incinerator to provide the infrastructure for full separated waste collection. We are calling for:

  • Distribution of kitchen pre-sort bins free of charge to facilitate householders in the Dublin region in the sorting of their waste
  • Distribute compost bins to householders in the Dublin regions and enforce a prohibition on organic waste, glass and other fractions which are either collected separately or for which recycling facilities or deposit refund schemes operate from residual waste. Because the majority of homes in the Dublin region have gardens the potential for intensive home composting is high.
  • Breakdown of goods currently provided for collection in the green bin in Appendix A of the above by-law into further separate fractions for collection.
  • Investigate the possibility of switching to co-collection so that a number of these fractions can be collected on the same day, therefore saving on transport and collection cost. Otherwise consider putting out to tender to recycling enterprises the contract for the collection of particular fractions of waste whereby those enterprises could receive a small subvention from the local authority but would not be permitted to charge the customer but would make the profit by selling on the collected recyclables or by recycling it themselves.
  • Enforcement through incentives, warnings and fines for proper sorting of waste by householders and the corporate sector

The lack of a market for recyclables has often stated as an obstacles to recycling. Central government must intervene to create markets for recyclables. Dublin's local authorities must lobby the Minister for Environment, Heritage & Local Government to introduce regulations under 29.4(l) of the Act of 1996 to require a producer of a product to use recovered materials or components in the productions of the product or substance, or prohibiting or limiting or controlling in a specified manner and to a specified extent the use of specified virgin material in such production. We are proposing the Minister apply these regulations, in the first instance, to the use of construction and demolition waste in engineering and road building projects and the use of used newsprint in the production of new newspapers. Creating such specifications will serve to create a market for recyclables therefore saving the state and councils the expense incurred in disposing of this waste.

The loss of the Irish Glass Bottle factory was a serious setback to recycling here in Ireland, but particularly here in Dublin. The Irish Glass Bottle Factory in Ringsend is referenced as central to glass recycling in the region in 'Waste Management a Strategy for Dublin'. It states that "The Irish Glass Bottle Co. LTD. in Ringsend has the capacity to treat all glass collected in Ireland. Glass must be delivered according to quality standards, including requirement for colour separation". Sinn Féin believes that the closure of this plant was regressive and believes that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Government and the Council's in the region could do more to intervene to save re-establish this plant if they are serious about recycling in the Dublin region. All glass in the state is now transported to Fermanagh which involves substantial energy output in terms of transport and would therefore appear to contradict the proximity principal which highlights a need to treat and/or dispose of wastes in reasonable proximity to their point of generation.

While it is accurate to say that parts of Section 29 of the Waste Management Act of 1996 require retailers to accept packaging and other material returned to them by consumers, paragraph s of subsection 3 of that section permits an exemption if the retailer is a member of a body approved by the Minister.

By joining Repak, retailers are discharged of their obligation to self comply with regulations by accepting back excess packaging. Repak was established jointly by industry and the Department of Environment and Local Government as a way of allowing companies to avoid self-compliance.

The fees for Repak membership are calculated on the basis of the quantity and sort of waste produced. These fees have been more or less stagnant since 2000 and as a result it is proposed to increase fees by 19% for 2005. A review of Repak needs to take place to evaluate its impact and to ensure it is reaching it's full potential in the reduction of waste in industry.

Recommendations:

  • Distribution of free pre-sort bins to householders.
  • Distribute compost bins to householders.
  • Breakdown of waste currently provided for collection in green bins.
  • Investigate the possibility of switching to co-collection.
  • Enforcement through incentives, warnings and fines.
  • Central government must intervene to create markets for recyclables.
  • Review of Repak.

Service charges & the polluter pays principal

Sinn Féin firmly believes that waste services are a core service that must be provided by the state through local authorities and paid for through the central taxation system. The current situation where by residents are forced to pay Service Charges for waste collection is unworkable as well as unjust. If Service Charges were to be part of a polluter pays system they could only make sense once an infrastructure is but in place which enables the householder to divert the maximum possible waste from the residual waste collection. In the absence of proper regulations and infrastructure to enable reduction, reuse and recycling householders do not have the ability to divert waste from the residual waste stream. It goes without saying that pay by weight, being introduced in January 2005, cannot apply to the residual waste collection without this infrastructure and should not be seen from a finance raising perspective. But unfortunately, the focus in City Council has moved away from Service Charges being part of a waste strategy towards simply being a funding mechanism to pay for waste collection.

Unsurprisingly cash-strapped local authorities have viewed the 'polluter pays' principal as a handy, but necessary, finance raising instrument. There is widespread misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the meaning of the 'polluter pays' principle. It's purpose is not to meet the cost of dealing with waste but rather to act as a prevention mechanism against unnecessary waste production and to encourage conservation of resources, that is why it should only be introduced in a pay by weight system for residual waste once the above mentioned infrastructure is put in place.

In terms of the implementation of the polluter pays principal Sinn Féin believes that this needs to be primarily targeted at the producers of waste such as manufactures who produce non- recyclable non biodegradable goods, excess packaging, are involved in the wasteful use of resources and are responsible for damaging emissions.

While we do not accept service charges, we believe that in light of the refusal of central government and the Dublin Councils to abandon the current inequitable charges the plight of low-income families needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Service Charges, as they currently stand, are an added burden on families already facing financial hardship.

We are proposing free tag allocation or credits to low income households based on size, composition and income of households to address the fact that the current waste charges make low income households relatively worse off than high-income households. A similar compensation scheme has been proposed by the ESRI and others as a method of compensating low income householders if carbon tax is introduced. We refer the Dublin Waste Strategy Co-ordination Group to 'Carbon Taxes: Which Households Gain or Lose' prepared for the Environmental Protection Agency by the ESRI (authors Sue Scott and John Eskins).

Recommendations

  • Service charges not to be used as fundraising mechanism.
  • Implementation of 'polluter pays' principal within industry.
  • Situation of low income families must be addressed in line with NGOs research.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Sinn Féin hope that in the reviewing of the Waste Management Plan for the Dublin region the public will now see a real attempt made to address the current waste management crisis at source.

We cannot burn or bury the problem, in fact not only is it impossible to do so it is impractical to do so. The arguments in this document show this to be true. The future must be one of a sustainable waste management strategy that is based on the logic of reduction, reusing and recycling. It makes sense environmentally, socially and economically.

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Sinn Féin today made a major submission to the review of the waste management strategy for Dublin. Attending the event were Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and Councillor Daithí Doolan. Speaking after the launch Councillor Daithí Doolan called on the four Dublin local authorities, ''to adopt a Zero Waste Strategy for the region." The document will be available in the special features section of the newsroom on the Sinn Féin website at www.sinnfein.ie/news/special_features.

Councillor Daithí Doolan said:

"Waste management is one of the major challenges facing us all. We can no longer simply brush the problem under the carpet or indeed burn or bury the problem. We must view waste as something that is of value, something that is in fact a resource. Only then, will we as a society stop burning and burying it and start reducing, reusing and recycling. The fact that 80% of waste in the Dublin City Council area, since the adoption of the current waste management plan in December 1998 is still going to landfill shows that little progress has been made. Given that 136,000 householders in the Dublin City council area are now using green bin or bag service it raises questions regarding enforcement and compliance with the bye-laws regarding segregation.

"All that a reliance on incineration will do is perpetuate the throwaway society, do nothing to create a public understanding of waste as a resource and fail to adequately tackle over-packaging and over-consumption. This needs to be fundamentally revised.

"Another matter of huge concern is the removal of key powers from local government. The fact that the responsibility for Dublin‚s waste management has become an executive power of the city or county manager, is bad for democracy in this city. We are demanding that this power is returned to democratically elected local representatives.

"In this submission Sinn Féin hopes to highlight this. We realise we do not have all the answers nor all the solutions. But we do realise that any waste management strategy must have guiding principals. These principals must be:

  • No incineration.
  • Phase out landfill.
  • An all Ireland Waste Strategy.
  • Consultation with, and inclusion of local communities.
  • Waste Strategies must be a reserve function of local authorities.

"Sinn Féin believes that Dublin as the capital can and must lead the way for the rest of the country in the drive towards a zero waste solution. Sinn Féin aim to continue to work with NGOs, other political parties and our communities to ensure that no incinerators are built in Ireland, land fill becomes a thing of the past and our society becomes a Zero Waste society." ENDS

Summary of recommendations

Incineration:

  • Phase out land fill
  • Abandon plans to build an incinerator in Dublin and use capital to invest in reducing, reusing and recycling of waste.

Reduction:

  • Greater emphasis on reducing the amount of waste that is created.
  • Medium and long-term targets set to reduce paper, card, plastic and metal packaging.
  • Greater resources to be put in to prevention schemes.
  • Dublin regional local authorities to make representations to Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government to introduce regulations to bring about waste reduction.
  • Labelling to identify specify the composition of the product and it‚s packaging.
  • Sales outlets to provide facilities for removal of packaging by customers.

Reuse:

  • Dublin regional local authorities request Minister for Environment introduce refunding mechanism.
  • Comprehensive strategy for treatment of agricultural waste.

Recycling and composting:

  • Distribution of free pre-sort bins to householders.
  • Distribute compost bins to householders.
  • Breakdown of waste currently provided for collection in green bins.
  • Investigate the possibility of switching to co-collection.
  • Enforcement through incentives, warnings and fines.
  • Central government must intervene to create markets for recyclables.
  • Review of Repak.

Service Charges and polluter pays principle:

  • Service charges not to be used as fundraising mechanism.
  • Implementation of "polluter pays" principal within industry.
  • Situation of low income families must be addressed in line with NGOs research.

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A Sinn Féin Delegation will this afternoon meet with the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen and the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy at Stormont.

It will be the first meeting between Sinn Féin and Paul Murphy since an NIO spying operation aimed at Sinn Féin was uncovered earlier this week.

Sinn Féin are of the firm belief that Paul Murphy sanctioned this operation and will challenge him directly at today's meeting and demand answers.

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness is available to speak to the media at 12 noon in the foyer in Stormont in advance of the meeting. ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties Bairbre de Brún has today said that "the current EU Constitution may serve to cement a two-tier Europe".

Ms de Brún was responding to comments made by EU lawyer, Professor Brian Bercusson of Kings College, London who said that an EU Constitution will strengthen the rights of workers.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"Sinn Féin would welcome any initiative which seeks to improve the conditions, rights and entitlements of workers throughout the EU. However, we believe that the EU Constitution, in its current state may serve to cement a two-tier Europe .

"Whilst the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is generally a progressive document, it does not go far enough to safeguard rights for EU citizens. The Charter repeatedly and explicitly states that the protection of many workers rights contained within it, are to be in accordance with national laws and practices. Therefore, in a number of instances, member states national law still supersedes EU law in the field of workers rights.

"There are also moves to ensure that companies can use their own country's labour laws even when operating in another member state. There are obvious dangers here to workers' rights also.

„It must be remembered that the EU is still committed to the Lisbon Agenda, which is founded on two key premises ˆ that increasing competitiveness is the key to resolving the financial problems of the EU, and that this requires the privatisation of public companies and assets. Secondly, the Lisbon Agenda also seeks what it refers to as labour market "flexibility" which is essentially another way of actually weakening the rights of workers.

"I recognise that much progressive legislation in regards to workers rights have emanated from the EU, but it should also be recognised that the draft EU Constitution may present more negatives than it will positives. " ENDS

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Commenting on the ongoing debate about the future of the rating system, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing issues Fra McCann MLA has said that he has 'no confidence that the British government will build in necessary safeguards to protect the vulnerable and less well off in its future plans for the rates'.

Cllr. McCann said:

" Sinn Féin are very unhappy at the approach which the British Direct Rule Minister Ian Pearson has adopted to the issue of changing the rates system. It is decades of British neglect and under funding which has left our infrastructure in such need of capital investment. There has so far been no recognition of this from Ian Pearson or the British Treasury.

" The taxation proposals tabled so far by Ian Pearson are regressive and will undoubtedly penalise the less well off and vulnerable. There is particular concern for the plight of elderly people. I have no confidence that the British government will build in the necessary safeguards in their final proposals to protect these groups.

" Sinn Féin will continue to meet with a wide cross section of groups and individuals interested in seeing the British government move these proposals onto a more progressive general taxation system. The fixation with increasing household rates and introducing additional water charges is not the way to tackle our undoubted infrastructure problems." ENDS

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Sinn Fein Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has slammed this morning's decision by the EU Commission to authorize the sale of genetically modified seeds produced by Monsanto. The decision follows a series of earlier ones to allow the sale of GM food products and comes as the Commission also considers a proposal to higher the threshold level at which GM content has to be labelled.

Speaking from Brussels Ms. McDonald said:

"Today's decision confirms what Sinn Féin and others have been saying over the past year since moves began to lift the embargo on GM within the EU. When authorization was given earlier this year for the sale of new food products containing GM, we said that this would inevitably be followed by proposals to open up the EU to GM seed and crops. And so it has come to pass.

"It is absolutely shameful that the Irish Government has gone along with this, and indeed that Commissioner David Byrne, who is one of the foremost advocates of GM, is using his final days in office to push through these new measures against the stated wishes of EU consumers and above all against the best interests of Irish agriculture which is based on the production of safe high quality conventional food products renowned throughout the world. If GM seed is introduced to this country, there will be no realistic method of preventing conventional and organic crops being contaminated and that may have disastrous consequences for our food industry. Within Europe Sinn Féin will continue to strenuously oppose the introduction of GM, and in Ireland we will be pressing ahead through our elected representatives throughout Ireland to have the entire island made GM free." ENDS

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West Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Michael Ferguson has expressed his outrage after the local DPP began attempts to keep the Andersonstown PSNI Military base open.

Mr Ferguson said:

" It has been reported that moves are afoot by members of the West Belfast DPP to keep Andersonstown PSNI Military base open. If ever there was an example of how unrepresentative the current policing structures are then surely this is it. A body claiming to know what is best for the West Belfast community is of course chaired by a member of the Women's Coalition based in South Belfast. It is unlikely if many of the people taking this decision have actually ever set foot in Andersonstown.

" These latest moves are of course deeply embarrassing for Alex Attwooed of the SDLP who has on at least two occasions previously announced the closure of this base. Sinn Féin have campaigned for the removal of this blight from our community for decades. We will continue to do this.

" Sinn Féin will not accept the mandarins on the Policing Board or the DPP attempting to continue to impose military occupation on the West Belfast community. We will continue to demand that the British government honour it commitments on demilitarisation in West Belfast and elsewhere in the upcoming discussions." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty has again demanded a full and frank statement from Paul Murphy on recent NIO related activities. Mr Doherty's comments come after the NIO continue to hide behind the 'no comment' approach in relation to the missing Castlereagh dossier and the intelligence gathering operation uncovered against Sinn Féin.

Mr Doherty said:

" Sinn Féin have for years been highlighting the activities of the securocrats who seem to operate with absolute impunity within the NIO. They are opposed to the peace process and opposed to nationalists and republicans having a share of power. Their influence over the past decade has been negative and damaging.

" Over the past few weeks they have attempted to cover-up the fact that a dossier containing the details of up to 400 people has been removed from Castlereagh. In the interests of 'no comment'' these people's lives are continuing to be put in danger.

" Now when faced with the exposure of an intelligence gathering plot targeted at Sinn Féin, which we believe to be directly sanctioned by Paul Murphy, we are again met with the standard 'no comment'. Does Paul Murphy seriously believe that this will wash. Does he seriously believe that republicans will simply ignore these important issues and they will disappear. He needs to get real and stop underestimating the damage which is being done by those securocrats who seem to be able to operate without fear of sanction within his department." ENDS

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South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has said that reports of planned attacks on ethnic minority communities over the 9/11 anniversary are 'deeply disturbing'.

Mr Maskey said:

" The PSNI appear to be releasing the minimum of information regarding the source or the seriousness of these threats. I have spoken to people who work within ethnic minority communities and they too are somewhat in the dark about the nature or extent of this particular threat.

" However what we do know is that there has been a sustained and organised campaign of violence and intimidation against members of the ethnic minority communities, particularly here in Belfast. Many of these attacks have been carried out by unionist paramilitaries.

" In the face of this many unionist politicians have given succour to those carrying out racist attacks. Only this week a prominent DUP councillor from Ballymena, Robin Sterling made openly racist remarks and no action or even comment is forthcoming from the DUP leadership.

" Given today's statement by the PSNI it is important that politicians and community leaders reassure those people from ethnic minority communities that they are safe and that they are welcome. Likewise a message must be sent to those carrying out racist attacks that their behaviour is unacceptable and unwanted." ENDS

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Following this afternoon's decision in the High Court to reject the application of those citizens concerned with the destruction of part of the historical Carrickmines Castle Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh called for costs not to be awarded against them as they took the case in the interests of Irish history, heritage and archaeology.

Deputy O Snodaigh said, "The Heritage Council has previously stated that 10 per cent of our historical sites were destroyed between 1991 and 2001, it seems as if that trend is continuing. We need more protections for our historical monuments.

"The whole Carrickmines saga could have been avoided if the junction was redesigned as was the next junction along, and if the question of ownership of Jackson Way was exposed fully." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has welcomed the indication from DUP Deputy leader Peter Robinson yesterday that he would support a peace dividend being paid by the British government to undo decades of British under funding and neglect.

Mr McLaughlin said:

" The main political objective in the immediate term is of course to establish whether or not the DUP are up for agreeing the sort of holistic package which is necessary to see the political institutions re-established and the other outstanding Good Friday Agreement issues resolved. This is of course proving somewhat difficult given the mixed signals being sent by the DUP over recent weeks.

" However I have to say that the comments made by Peter Robinson regarding the need for the British Government to pay a peace dividend to undo the decades of neglect and under funding mirror the position which has been advanced by Sinn Féin for many years.

" In every negotiation and indeed within the Executive Sinn Féin argued strongly that all of the local parties needed to adopt a united approach in demanding that the British government deliver a substantial and meaningful peace dividend.

" Communities across the six counties have suffered British government neglect through under funding and others have suffered and continue to suffer through oppressive policing and miltarisation. Our road and water infrastructure and our health and education facilities are clearly in need of substantial investment yet the only option which the British government seems to be advancing is increased local rates.

" This is unacceptable and it is time that the British government directly put up the money to undo the damage done by its decades old policy of militarisation and under funding." ENDS

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Sinn Féin representative for Dublin South East, Councillor Daithí Doolan speaking ahead of tonight's City Council debate on Dublin's City Development Plan, has outlined his party's attempt to "rezone incineration out of the City Development Plan".

Cllr Doolan said:

"Sinn Féin has submitted an amendment to the plan which will only allow industry that is compatible with a non thermal treatment policy. The rezoning we propose tonight will guarantee that no incinerator can be built on the proposed site on the Poolbeg Peninsula. If we win tonight it will be a major victory not just for the local area here in the inner city but will be a victory for the whole of Dublin. I am confident that we do have cross party support with other parties indicating that they now support the campaign to stop the incinerator.

"The site for the proposed incinerator might well be on Poolbeg Peninsula but international studies show that the effects of incineration impact up to 40 kilometers from the actual site. This amendment will allow City Council to seriously address the waste crisis we face. We can no longer simply burn or bury our waste.

"Sinn Féin is committed to working with other political parties and with the communities we represent in order to introduce a Zero Waste Strategy for Dublin, a strategy which actually tackles the crisis at source. It aims to reduce the waste we produce, reuse where practical and invest in our fledgling recycling industry. Tonight is our attempt to ensure that incinerators and their side effects will have no place here in Dublin now or at any time in the future." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP and the party Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP will hold discussions tomorrow morning (Wednesday 8th Sept) with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The meeting will take place at 11am at Government Buildings in Dublin.

The Sinn Féin delegation is available to speak to the media before the meeting at 10.50am.

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Commenting on the impending decision of PSNI Chief Hugh Orde regarding the future of the Full Time Reserve, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly said that the removal of this force was a clear demand of Patten and a demand which must be met.

Mr Kelly said:

" Patten recommended that the Full Time Reserve be phased out quickly. This important Patten demand has already been delayed by years, a move facilitated by the Policing Board, in direct contravention of the Patten proposals.

" Sinn Féin have consistently raised this matter in our discussions with the British government and this force clearly must be removed from the policing equation. The Full Time Reserve is unrepresentative and represents to nationalists and republicans a key element of a failed policing agenda.

" People will be watching closely whether or not the Policing Board are going to continue to acquiesce in maintaining this unrepresentative and discredited force." ENDS

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Speaking from Stormont where he is leading a party delegation in talks with the SDLP, Sinn Féin Assembly group leader Conor Murphy said in an initial response to Peter Robinson's Dublin speech that 'the community were receiving mixed signals from the DUP'.

Mr Murphy said:

" We are conscious that that community is receiving mixed signals from the DUP over recent weeks. If today's speech by Peter Robinson is a genuine indication that a deal can be done then we would obviously welcome that. But I have to say the messages coming from the DUP have caused considerable confusion.

" Sinn Fein have been clear in saying that we are approaching these discussions in a positive manner. We want to see a package agreed which will see the political institutions re-established and the other outstanding issues resolved. But now is the time to make progress. Now is the time to do real business.

" If today's speech indicates that Peter Robinson is up for doing real business then of course Sinn Féin will wish to explore this in the coming days." ENDS

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Dublin Sinn Féin will launch their waste strategy document "Towards A Zero Waste Strategy in the Dublin Region" on Thursday 09th September 2004, in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street Dublin at 10.30 am.

Attending the event will be Mary Lou McDonald MEP, Aengus O Snodaigh TD and Dublin City Councillor Daithí Doolan.

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP has said that he believes that the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy directly authorised the intelligence gathering operation uncovered yesterday at the home of a Sinn Féin member. Mr McGuinness has demanded that the British Secretary of State make a full statement on the matter.

Mr McGuinness said:

" I have just returned from London this morning. We were there as part of ongoing efforts to see a package agreed which would see the re-establishment of the political institutions and the resolution of all of the other outstanding Good Friday Agreement matters.

" Sinn Féin has all along been approaching these discussions in a positive and constructive manner.

" While we were in London yesterday a sophisticated bugging device was found in the home of a member of Gerry Adams staff. Gerry Adams yesterday raised this very serious turn of events with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair People should not underestimate the effects of this.

" This is a serious breach of faith by the British government and I believe that it comes directly from within the NIO. I have to presume that it was authorised by the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy in his role as head of the NIO and rest assured I will be raising this directly with him. The 'no comment' approach by the NIO will not wash.

" Clearly this NIO spying operation on Sinn Féin raises very serious issues and very serious questions about the continuing negative role being played by the NIO securocrats at the heart of the British system. The British Prime Minister Tony Blair needs to tackle head on those within the NIO who are hostile to the peace process and hostile to republican involvement in it." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has described as worrying, statistics by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI), which suggested that a rise in racist assaults have been reported since the Citizenship Referendum last June.

Ms McDonald said "it is no coincidence that there is a direct correlation between the Citizenship Referendum and a rise in the incidences of reported racist assaults in the period directly after the passing of the referendum".

Speaking before her departure to Brussels Ms McDonald said:

„The NCCRI study shows clearly that the volume of racist assaults are running well above the Œaverage‚ numbers normally reported. That there has been a sharp increase during and since the passing of the Citizenship Referendum should surprise no one. Sinn Féin, along with others, warned that the referendum would lead to an increase in racism, and unfortunately we have been proved right.

"The NCCRI recorded 50 racist incidents during and since the referendum campaign. Many such incidents occurred during the actual campaign. These statistics are particularly worrying when placed beside other statistics, which show an average of 47 incidents every 6 months.

"Racism also extends far beyond such violent attacks. Members of ethnic minority communities experience a whole series of inequalities in our society, ranging from verbal and physical abuse to discrimination in employment, education, health provision, and public life more generally.

"The Garda racial and intercultural unit have not recorded such an increase in racist attacks and this shows that many members of ethnic minority communities in Ireland have no confidence in the Gardaí, and do not report many incidents to them.

"Condemning racist attacks is not enough. We need to actively work for the removal of racism from our society. This requires action as much as words. It requires adequate resourcing and support for ethnic minority communities and their support groups. And it requires meaningful partnerships between all sections of society.

"In particular politicians and others in positions of community leadership need to ask ourselves what more can we do to assist ethnic minority communities and ensure that all people can live free from the negative effects of racism." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has expressed concern at the approach being adopted by the European Commission to GM crops.

Ms de Brún said:

"The Commission will on Wednesday establish a threshold for GM contamination in seeds that will allow for unlabelled contamination of conventional and organic seeds.

"The outgoing Commissioner for Environment, Margot Wallström, will propose on Wednesday (September 8th) establishing minimum thresholds for adventitious or technically unavoidable traces of genetically modified seeds in other products at 0.3% for maize and oilseed rape. This threshold is too high to allow farmers to make an informed choice.

"Once this proposal is adopted by the Commission on Wednesday, only a 2/3 majority of the Council of Ministers can stop it from entering into force. The Commission, on its own, can push this through in spite of widespread opposition across Europe. Given the numbers of people who do not wish to sow GM crop it is vital that seeds be labelled at the practical detection level (0.1%).

"The Commission proposal on labelling of seeds could make it practically impossible to control and monitor GM releases into the environment and could lead to widespread and uncontrolled GM contamination throughout Europe." ENDS

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