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An Chéad Dáil

Here is the much celebrated video shown at Sinn Féin's An Chéad Dáil event in the Mansion House Round Room on January 12, 2019. Sinn Féin former Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha wrote and presents this historic and inspiring reflection of the events of 100 years ago.


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Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Daithi Doolan has reacted angrily to news that residents of the South Lotts area of Ringsend have effectively been without water since last night (13.07.04). It has emerged that the City Council cut off the water supply to facilitate water flow into new private apartments in the area.

Speaking today, Cllr Doolin said:

"I have been in contact with numerous local people today, who have effectively been without water since yesterday evening. When I contacted the City Council I was informed that this was to facilitate a new private development in the area.

"I asked the Council if they had prior knowledge of the cut to the water supply in Ringsend and they informed me that their policy was not to inform residents when the water supply was cut off for only a short time. I find this response both ludicrous and unacceptable.

"That the Council had prior knowledge of the cut in water and not informed the residents of South Lotts is disgraceful. Furthermore, the Council has made no attempt to contact the residents to apologise for the inconvenience caused. At present, the residents are still without water supply.

"The residents of this area are angry and upset by the lack of consultation from the Council. I have spoken with one local woman with a newborn baby who has no water to bathe, wash or feed her baby.

"I will be raising this matter with the City Council as a matter of urgency."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the decision of the Cabinet today to apply for official working status for the Irish language in the EU. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"I welcome today's Government decision. It is a very good result for the determined efforts of many people and many congratulations are due especially to the Stadas campaign. They placed this issue high on the political agenda and won support on a wide political basis. I hope a positive response comes from the EU without delay. This will be a significant step forward for the Irish language."ENDS

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Chuir Ceannaire Dála Shinn Féin Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin fáilte roimh cinneadh an Rilatais chun iarratas a chur isteach do stadas oifigiúl oibre don Ghaeilge san Aontas Eorpach. Dúirt an Teachta Ó Caoláin:

Cuirim fáilte roimh cinneadh seo an Rialtais inniu. Toradh maith ar obair dian a rinne an-chuid daoine agus tá comhghairdeas ar leith ag dul ach go háirithe do Fheachtas Stadas. Chuir siad an ceist seo go hard ar an gclár polaitiúil agus fuair siad tacaiocht ar bhonn leathan polaitiúil. Tá súil agam anois go dtiocfaidh an freagra dearfach ón AE gan mhoill. Céim ar aghaidh don Ghaeilge a bheidh ann."

Government decision on EU status for Irish welcomed

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the decision of the Cabinet today to apply for official working status for the Irish language in the EU. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"I welcome today's Government decision. It is a very good result for the determined efforts of many people and many congratulations are due especially to the Stadas campaign. They placed this issue high on the political agenda and won support on a wide political basis. I hope a positive response comes from the EU without delay. This will be a significant step forward for the Irish language."ENDS

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Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson has said that current proposals on top-up fees will contribute to the brain drain, with many of our brightest young people heading out of the Six Counties.

Mr Ferguson said:

"The reality is that many of our brightest and most able young people don't even get a chance to benefit from third level education because of the current financial barriers faced particularly by young nationalists and protestants from working class communities. Many others who have the opportunity leave Ireland and never return.

"What is certain is that further barriers to third level education will be created by the arrogant attempts of British direct rule ministers to force through Tony Blair's agenda on introducing top-up fees. The result will be to further reinforce the two-tier education system that works against young men and women from more marginalised communities.

"Irish re-unification has the potential to create a real momentum and release the undoubted potential of people right across this island. Reunification would require substantial investment across the Ireland to re-establish the transport and communications infrastructure but also in terms of connecting economies and the creative and knowledge based centres across the island.

"Reunification would also remove us from the conservative Blair agenda that will do untold harm our third level education system.

"We urgently need an end to direct rule. We also need to see greater economic sovereignty to allow us to set our own spending priorities and to break the link with British policy that has failed in so many areas including third level education, investment in infrastructure and our farming sand fishing communities." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has criticised British direct rule economy Minister Barry Gardiner after he attempted to interpret the latest officially produced unemployment figures.

Ms Gildernew said:

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

"If we look at the totals for people who are classified as economically inactive, at the 'official' unemployment figures and also at the levels of long-term unemployment and long-term illness and incapacity the picture is far from rosy.

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

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Commenting after the appointment of four new members of the Equality Commission, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality issues Caitriona Ruane said that it 'was time that the British government ended its stalling and set about delivering on the Equality agenda'.

Ms Ruane said:

"For the Equality Commission to fulfil its role it needs to be representative of broad society. Up to now this has clearly not been the case.

"If progress is to be made in transforming our society from one of institutionalised discrimination and inequality then it is crucial that the British government ends the stalling and starts delivering on the equality agenda.

" A strong and representative Equality Commission should be playing a central role in delivering on this crucial Good Friday Agreement demand." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for upper Bann John O'Dowd has challenged the SDLP representatives in the area to follow the lead of senior party colleagues and consider their positions on the DPP after the disgraceful policing operation put in place in Lurgan last night.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Last night in Lurgan the PSNI overturned a Parades Commission determination and forced a Black Perceptory Parade through the Market Street area of the town. They then allowed a loyalist mob led by the local LVF along with DUP Councillor Jonathan Bell to blockade the town. From 6pm nationalists were unable to enter Lurgan town centre.

"After the blockade was finally lifted the PSNI attacked nationalists congregating in North Street. Party colleagues and myself had to intervene to prevent PSNI land rovers mowing down a group of young nationalists.

"Over the past two days the PSNI have on two occasions took it upon themselves to overturn Parades Commission determinations. On both occasions the nationalist community ended up being hemmed in and attacked by the PSNI. It is clear that one law operates for unionists and another for nationalists and republicans.

"Over the past week two senior SDLP members one in Larne and one in Belfast have said that they are considering their positions with regard to DPPs and the Policing Board itself. I would now challenge the SDLP DPP members in Upper Bann to do likewise in the light of last nights disgraceful PSNI operation." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA has called for an end to so-called roaming charges for mobile phone users throughout Ireland.

Mr Mc Laughlin said:

"The European Commission carried out an investigation two years ago that concluded that Mobile Phone service providers are guilty of charging inflated 'roaming' tariffs.

"The investigation focused on the high cost of calls charged to travellers‚ abroad - mostly on holidays. But anyone here in Ireland that uses a mobile phone will be aware that this practice affects - on a daily basis - inhabitants that live in close proximity to or have to travel regularly cross border.

"Those travelling abroad are aware that using a mobile phone in a foreign country will incur additional costs. But living in close proximity to the border often results in involuntary 'roaming' charges being imposed on unsuspecting mobile users because of a competing stronger signal from the opposite side of the border. Mobile phone signals do not recognise borders and therefore short of turning the phone off when travelling there is no option but to pay. That is unless the mobile phone service providers cease to exploit their customers on either side of the border.

"The imposition of these 'roaming' charges is even more unacceptable given that the major providers operate throughout the island of Ireland. There is no rational explanation why the regulators North and South should not be able to co-operate in devising a formula for a single tariff for the 32 counties. The Minister responsible for Communications in the 26-counties has pledged to look into the practice and although O2 Ireland introduced an all-Ireland tariff for southern customers its sister company O2 UK that operates in the North has made no such provision.

"I have previously been in contact with the providers North and South to highlight this anomaly and while they acknowledged the problem and promised to investigate ways in which to address it, it is not being treated with the urgency it deserves. Etain Doyle, the then 26 county telecom regulator, who is joined by two other members, John Doherty and Osolde Goggin on what is now the Commission for Communications Regulation, promised to study the market but as yet, to my knowledge has not produced a report.

"Despite the fact that Œroaming calls‚ account for only 5% of total calls made it is estimated that a disproportionate 15% of profits are derived from these calls.

"I have written to the regulators North and South requesting meetings to discuss this unfair practice and I will also be contacting both Ministers to request that they actively pursue measures to address the problem. I intend to continue in my efforts to have this practice eradicated and replaced by a system of fair and equitable charges for service provided which is not impacted by where on this island a person lives."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has accused the PSNI of over ruling a Parades Commission determination on a Black Perceptory parade in Lurgan this evening.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Having met with the Parades Commission in the lead up to this parade I was well aware of the Commissions determination. So too where other local politicians, the Blackmen and the PSNI.

"However this evening, in a mirror image of what happened last night in Ardoyne, the PSNI overturned the determination and forced a parade through the nationalist part of the town. This was clearly designed to provoke trouble and this was only averted through the work of local republicans on the ground. The PSNI then allowed a crowd of up to 300 loyalists to blockade the town centre for up to an hour.

"The actions of the PSNI over the past two nights in overturning Parades Commission determinations raises very serious issues both for the future of parading and the future of policing. Unionists within the PSNI with the

support of unionists within the NIO are once again dictating the parading and policing agenda. This is unacceptable and must raise questions for those parties and individuals who continue to promote the PSNI to nationalists as an acceptable and accountable policing service." ENDS

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Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald speaking prior to their departure for their first trip, as MEPs, to the European Parliament said "Sinn Féin's priority is to represent our constituencies, to advance the peace process, build for Irish unity and work for equality in Ireland and across Europe."

Speaking to the media in Dublin this morning they said:

"This is a very exciting and challenging time for Irish republicans. We are the third biggest party in Ireland with more than 342,000 voters. For the first time we have representatives elected to the Dáil, Assembly, Westminster, Local Councils across Ireland and the European Parliament. The work and priorities of all of these elected representatives are the same - to represent our constituencies, to advance the peace process, build for Irish unity and work for equality in Ireland and across Europe.

"We enter the European Parliament as Sinn Féin MEPs mandated to deliver on our agenda for change and to deliver for Ireland. This means working effectively both inside the Parliament and in Ireland.

"In Europe we will work through the European United Left/Nordic Green Group (GUE/NGL) - this is a very effective and progressive group within the Parliament, which does not operate a whip system ensuring that for us, it is Sinn Féin‚s and Ireland‚s priorities, which will come first. We will also continue to engage with the widest possible range of MEPs and groups across Europe to advance our agenda for change on EU matters, the peace process and Irish unity and independence. In terms of committees our priority are those dealing with employment and industry, agriculture and rural regeneration, human rights and equality.

"In Ireland we will continue with the extensive outreach work with which we have been engaged for some time now with local communities, women‚s groups, trade unions, voluntary organisations, business sector, farming organisations and justice groups. Our emphasis will be on communicating and consulting. We want to demystify the role of MEPs and to develop mechanisms whereby that position can be used as a conduit to empower local communities.

"We also want to see all 16 MEPs elected on the island working together in the interests of all of those who elected us. And in the Dáil, and in the Assembly we will work with Sinn Féin TDs and MLAs to ensure that European matters are discussed and scrutinised. It is essential that the British government‚s suspension of the Assembly is ended immediately.

"Sinn Féin stands for change in Ireland and the EU. Our campaign slogan in the election campaign was 'an Ireland of equals in a Europe of Equals" - the changes we want at EU level are no different from those we are pursuing here in Ireland.

"We have a vision for an EU that respects the democratic rights of the people of each member state. We want an EU that promotes equality among people and nations. An EU that works for the just and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Europe and beyond. We believe that the enlarged EU must adopt a new set of priorities including the elimination of poverty within its borders and the reform and strengthening of the United Nations to advance justice and peace in the wider world.

"We also want the EU to become a partnership of equal states. We oppose current attempts to turn the EU into a superstate or a military and economic superpower because we value Irish sovereignty and Irish neutrality. We know that the EU reflects the political agenda of the big States, the unelected Eurocracy, and big business. But it can be changed, and it should be changed. As part of this we will be engaging in widespread debate on the EU Constitution in the time ahead.

"Over the next five years we will:

  • Advance the peace process
  • Build for Irish unity and independence
  • Work for a reformed EU that gives power back to the people
  • Campaign for Irish neutrality and a demilitarised Europe
  • Promote an all Ireland approach to economic and social issues with the active assistance of the EU
  • Work to revitalise Irish agriculture and rural communities on an all Ireland basis
  • Seek new priorities for EU policy including the elimination of poverty and support for public services
  • Campaign for all EU law and policy to respect and promote equality and human rights
  • Campaign for the Irish language to be recognised as an official and working language in the EU
  • Build political alliances with like-minded parties and civil society in Ireland and across the EU to advance these goals"ENDS
Éire Chothrom in Eoraip Chothrom

Dúirt Bairbre de Brún agus Mary Lou McDonald, Feisirí Shinn Féin, go bhfuil sé mar thosaíocht ag an pháirtí feidhmiú ar son a dtoghcheantar, próiseas na síochána a chur ar aghaidh, oibriú ar son athaontú na hÉireann agus oibriú ar son an chomhionnanais in Éirinn agus san Eoraip.

Arsa an bheirt acu leis na meáin i mBaile Átha Cliath maidin inniu :

"Is ré spreagach dhúshlánach í seo do phoblachtánaigh na hÉireann. Is muid-ne an tríú pháirtí mó sa tír le corradh is 342,000 vóta againn. Don chéad uair ariamh, tá ionadaithe tofa againn sa Dáil, sa Tionól, i Westminster, i gComhairlí áitiúla ar fud na hÉireann agus i bParlaimint na hEorpa. Tá na haidhmeanna agus na tosaíochtaí céanna ag achan ionadaí tofa de chuid Shinn Féin ˆ feidhmiú ar son ár dtoghcheantar, próiseas na síochána a chur ar aghaidh, oibriú ar son athaontú na hÉireann agus ar son an chomhionannais in Éirinn agus san Eoraip.

"Téann muid isteach i bParlaimint na hEorpa mar Fheisirí Shinn Féin agus sainordú againn clár an athraithe a bhaint amach ar mhaithe le hÉire. Ciallaíonn sé seo go mbeidh obair éifeachtach ar siúl laistigh den Pharlaimint agus in Éirinn.

"San Eoraip oibreoidh muid tríd an grúpa Lochlannach Glas/Aontas Clé. Is grúpa forchéimnitheach éifeachtach é sin laistigh den Pharlaimint nach mbíonn córas fuipe aige. Ar an dóigh sin, is iad tosaíochtaí Shinn Féin agus tosaíochtaí na hÉireann a bhéas chun tosaigh. Chomh maith leis sin, leanfaimid linn agus muid i ngleic leis an réimse d‚Fheisirí agus de ghrúpaí Eorpacha is leithne le clár athraithe Shinn Féin a chur chun cinn ˆ athruithe a bhaineann le hábhair Eorpacha, le próiseas na síochána, le hathaontú agus le neamhspleáchas na hÉireann. Beidh tóir againn mar bhaill ar choistí a phléann le fostaíocht agus tionscal, le talmhaíocht agus athbheochaint na tuaithe, le cearta daonna agus comhionannas.

"Leanfaimid linn in Éirinn leis an obair leathan tharraingteach a bhfuil baint againn léi le tamall maith anuas leis na pobail áitiúla, le grúpaí ban, le ceardchumainn, le heagraíochtaí deonacha, le lucht gnó, le heagraíochtaí talmhaíochta agus le grúpaí ceartais. Beidh béim againn ar an teagmháil agus ar an dul-i-gcomhairle.

"Ina theannta sin, teastaíonn uainn go n-oibreoidh le chéile na 16 Feisire Eorpacha ó oileán na hÉireann ar mhaithe leo siúd a thogh muid. Oibreoidh muid le Teachtaí Shinn Féin sa Dáil agus sa Tionól le deimhin a dhéanamh de go bpléifear agus go scrúdófar ceisteanna agus ábhair Eorpacha. Tá sé fíor-riachtanach go n-éirítear as ceal na Breataine ar an Tionól ar an toirt.

"Seasann Sinn Féin ar son an athraithe in Éirinn agus san Aontas Eorpach. Bhí Éire Chothrom in Eoraip Chothrom mar mhana feachtais againn sna toghcháin. Is ionann iad na hathruithe a theastaíonn uainn in Éirinn agus na hathruithe a theastaíonn uainn san Eoraip.

"Tá fís againn don AE, fís a bhfuil muinín aici as cearta daonlathacha phobail éagsúla na mballstát. Teastaíonn Aontas Eorpach uainn a chuidíonn leis an chomhionannas idir dhaoine agus idir náisiúin, Aontas a n-oibríonn ar mhaithe le réiteach ceart síochánta ar chomhraic san Eoraip agus lasmuigh di. Creidtear dúinn go gcaithfidh an an tAontas méadaithe tosaíochtaí úra a bheith aige i leith na bochtaineachta laistigh dá theorannacha agus an dóigh gur féidir críoch a chur léi. San áireamh i measc na dtosaíochtaí úra sin caithfear athchóiriú agus athneartú a dhéanamh ar na Náisiúin Aontaithe le ceartas agus síocháin a chur ar aghaidh ar fud an domhain ina iomlán.

"Teastaíonn uainn, chomh maith, go mbeidh an tAontas Eorpach ina pháirtíocht de stáit chothromacha. Táimid in éadan iarrachtaí reatha atá ar siúl ollstát a dhéanamh as an Aontas nó ollchumhacht mhíliteach nó eacnamaíoch a dhéanamh as toisc gur milis dúinn ceannas na hÉireann agus neodracht na hÉireann. Tá a fhios againn go dtugann an tAontas clú do chlár polaitiúil na mórstát, dóibh siúd nár toghadh iad agus don ollghnó. Ach, is féidir é sin a athrú agus caithfear é a athrú. Mar chuid den mhéid seo, beidh dul-i-ngleic leathan ar siúl againn i bpróiseas agus i ndíospóireacht chomhairleach faoi Bhunreacht an Aontais Eorpaigh amach anseo.

"Le linn na tréimhse chúig bliana atá romhainn :

  • Oibreoidh muid ar son athaontú agus neamhspleáchas na hÉireann.
  • Oibreoidh muid ar son athchóiriú an AE a thugann cumhacht ar ais don phobal.
  • Rachaidh muid ar fheachtas ar son na neodrachta agus an dímhílitithe san Eoraip.
  • Seasfaidh muid ar son bhealach uileÉireannach in ábhair eacnamaíochta agus shóisialta, le lámh ghníomhach chuidithe ón Aontas Eorpach.
  • Oibreoidh muid ar son athbheochaint thalmhaíocht na hÉireann agus ar son na bpobal tuaithe ar bhonn uileÉireannach.
  • Beidh tosaíochtaí úra á lorg againn do pholasaithe an Aontais - cealú na bochtaineachta, cruthú na fostaíochta agus tacaíocht do na seirbhísí poiblí san áireamh.
  • Rachaidh muid ar fheachtas ar son dlí agus pholasaí uileAontas le meas a bheith acu ar dhaoine agus le comhionannas agus ceartais daonna a chur ar aghaidh.
  • Rachaidh muid ar fheachtas ar son aitheantas a bhronnadh ar an Ghaeilge mar theanga oifigiúil oibre san AE.
  • Tógfaidh múid cairdis pholaitiúla le páirtithe ar aon intinn linn féin agus leis an tsochaí shibhialta in Éirinn agus ar fud na hEorpa leis na haidhmeanna seo a chur chun cinn." Críoch.

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has claimed Unionist paramilitaries were intent on murder in Loughguile last night. Mr. Mc Guigan said :

"This was a planned and orchestrated attempt at a sectarian killing and obviously the work of Unionist paramilitaries. Thankfully for the family their intended victim wasn‚t in the house at the time.

" The Twelfth period is always a very tense time to be a Nationalist especially in isolated areas such as North Antrim. Over the past number of weeks we have all witnessed the Œ Kill all Taigs‚ banners on certain bonfires throughout the North.

" Last night in Loughguile we nearly saw those sentiments become a reality. I would call on Unionists, particularly in North Antrim, where sectarianism and bigotry are rife, to show some courage and leadership. This call has been made before, though unfortunately for the Nationalist and Republican community seems to be falling on deaf ears." ENDS

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Upper Bann Sinn Féin Assembly member John O'Dowd has accused supporters of the Black Perceptory of being involved in an attack on a female catholic taxi driver in Lurgan this morning.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"This mornings Black parade in Lurgan and the transfer of the march supporters to the train station through the nationalist part of the town went relatively calmly. This was due to work on the ground by local nationalist community and political representatives and I would commend them for that.

"However a short time later a catholic female taxi driver was attacked in broad daylight in the middle of Lurgan town centre. Her car was stoned and she has been left in a distressed state. Despite the fact that the town has been swamped by both PSNI and British Army personnel all morning no effort was made to apprehend the attackers.

"It is my belief that having failed in their strategy of provoking the nationalist community in the town by the parade and the decision to use the train instead of buses, supporters of the Blackmen are now trying to raise tensions in the town further before the return of the parade this evening." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has said that the actions of the PSNI this evening in Ardoyne have effectively rendered the Parades Commission defunct. Mr Kelly‚s comments come after the PSNI took the decision to breach a Parades Commission determination and force Orange Order supporters including prominent UDA members past Ardoyne shops this evening.

Mr Kelly said:

"Tonight the PSNI with the support of the British government forced both the Orange Order and senior UDA members through nationalist North Belfast. This was in direct breach of the Parades Commission determination. It has put the parading issue back years as it has effectively handed control of contentious parades back into the hands of the PSNI. A fact that senior PSNI members were taunting the nationalist crowd about this evening.

"Having forced the parade through Ardoyne the PSNI along with the paratroop regiment then attacked local people. A number of people including myself who were trying to maintain calm were attacked and assaulted by baton wielding PSNI thugs. No action was taken to move on the loyalist crowd or respond to attacks on the Ardoyne community from Twadell Avenue.

"I have spoken this evening to Ian Pearson by telephone and I informed him that he along with the PSNI ultimately has to bear the responsibility for what happened in Ardoyne this evening. Those of us still on the ground will continue to do our best to maintain calm but I have to say that the anger within the nationalist community in North Belfast this evening is palpable."ENDS

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Newly elected Sinn Féin MEPs for the Six Counties, Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald for Dublin have called upon the EU to "support the suspension of preferential trade with Israel". Ms de Brún and Ms McDonald made their comments after the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel's West Bank barrier is illegal and should be removed.

Speaking today, Ms de Brún and Ms McDonald said:

"The EU must now take action to suspend its preferential trade agreement with Israel following Friday's ruling from the International Court of Justice, which stated that the barrier which runs through the West Bank is illegal and should be removed. Whilst everyone must be concerned about attacks on innocent Israelis, the construction of this illegal barrier is not the answer.

"The EU-Israel Association Agreement grants Israel favourable trading terms with the EU. This agreement includes a clause, which says that it is based on respect for human rights and democratic principles. However, the reality is that Israel continues to build walls of separation and support illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and it continues to ignore numerous United Nations resolutions on its illegal occupation of Palestine.

"The EU must cease this preferential trade agreement with Israel, at least until Israel complies with numerous UN resolutions. This apartheid wall greatly infringes upon the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and has been universally condemned. It is imperative that the European Union sends a clear message to Israel that their occupation of Palestine is opposed in Europe, and the only way forward is through dialogue." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has voiced his deep concern at reports that the PSNI are to overturn restrictions, placed by the Parades Commission, on an Orange Order march going through Ardoyne today. Mr. Adams said "There is no legitimate reason for the Orange Order to march through Ardoyne but the worst case scenario is for the PSNI to capitulate to unionist threats and overturn this decision.

Mr. Adams said:

"The decision of the Parades Commission to force this parade through nationalist North Belfast on two occasions today is the wrong decision but the situation will be made much worse if the PSNI overturns restrictions which have been placed on the parade and allows Orange Order supporters to coat trail through this nationalist community this evening.

"There is huge anger that already this morning the Orange Order were allowed to ignore the restrictions placed on them by the Parades Commission. This follows a week of threats and intimidation, the unionist blockade of Ligoniel and last week's capitulation by the Parades Commission to similar threats over the Springfield Road parade.

"Sinn Féin along with many other groups have been working tirelessly over recent months to ensure that this summer remains peaceful and we will continue with that work. But other people have a role to play. Sinn Féin has been in touch with the British and Irish governments to demand that they uphold the decision of the Parades Commission and ensure that the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales are treated with respect." ENDS

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Commenting after the PSNI forced both the Orange Order and its followers past Ardoyne shops this evening in breach of the Parades Commission determination, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

"The PSNI tonight forced both the Orange Order and hundreds of supporters past Ardoyne shops in direct defiance of the Parades Commission determination.

"The British Secretary of State Paul Murphy allowed a deal to be done which was in direct breach of the original determination. I had earlier in the day warned Mr Murphy of the potential consequences of going down this road and I have tonight again spoken to Mr Murphy and left him in no doubt about what we think of his actions.

"I would like to praise the discipline shown by republicans throughout North Belfast and Ardoyne in particular this evening in the face of very serious provocation from the Orange Order, unionist paramilitaries, the PSNI and British Army."ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has called on people to remain calm over the coming days and urged all groups to work to ensure that this weekend and the rest of the marching season remain peaceful.

Mr Adams said:

"Much work has been done in recent months to ensure that this summer remains peaceful. The attitude of the Orange Order and certain unionist politicians in recent days has made this work more difficult.

"But despite the quite obvious anger that exists within the nationalist community over the threats being made by an alliance of unionist politicians, paramilitaries and the Orange Order I am appealing to people to remain calm over the next few days and continue working to achieve a peaceful summer, particularly at interface areas in Belfast."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has accused the Orange Order in alliance with unionist paramilitaries and unionist politicians "of deliberately heightening tensions and threatening violence in order to force an unwanted parade through a nationalist community". Mr Kelly's remarks come after Sinn Féin Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness spoke by telephone with Paul Murphy this morning to discuss this issue.

Mr. Kelly said:

"The decision taken by the Parades Commission to force this parade through nationalist North Belfast twice on the Twelfth was the wrong decision. However having granted the Orange Order the two parades the Order is still threatening violence against the nationalist community in order to be allowed to coat trail through the area along with others which will like previous years include prominent members of the UDA.

"The Orange Order has deliberately taken a decision in alliance with the unionist paramilitaries and unionist politicians to threaten violence and heighten tensions. The recent capitulation by the Parades Commission to similar threats over the Springfield Road parade has encouraged the Orange Order to adopt this approach.

"It is completely unacceptable that the nationalist community is being held to ransom and threatened in this fashion. Martin McGuinness this morning contacted Paul Murphy to make him very clear of our anger at the approach being adopted by the Orange Order and the unionist parties and to make it very clear to him that nationalists in North Belfast and elsewhere will not be abused in this manner.

"Sinn Féin along with many other groups have been working tirelessly over recent months to ensure that this summer remains peaceful. We will continue with that work. However the contribution of the Orange Order and the two main unionist parties to raising tensions and threatening violence makes this task all the more difficult. But despite the obvious provocations I would still appeal to nationalists to remain calm and ensure that protests remain peaceful." ENDS

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Sinn Fein Councillor for North Belfast Eoin O'Broin has called today for action over two bonfires situated on the Crumlin Road, one at the junction with Heskith Road and one at the junction of Glenbank. The two bonfires, which are built on roadway and are situated close to interfaces and pose serious threat to motorists and pedestrians alike.

Speaking today Cllr O‚Broin said:

"These bonfires are dangerous and destructive. The two of them are actually built on the roadway and pose a serious threat to motorists and pedestrians alike. They are unsteady structures which force cars to enter oncoming traffic to avoid them.

"Not only are they dangerous but when lit will cause serious damage to the road surface, the footpaths and surrounding buildings. The cost to the taxpayer to repair tis damage will be significant.

"I am calling on the DRD Road Service and Belfast City Council to act with immediate effect before there is a serious accident surrounding these bonfires. We already know that the twelfth bonfires cause serious air pollution. It is not good enough that they are also allowed to destroy the local infrastructure."ENDS

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Sinn Féin's first and sole member of Castlebar Town Council, Noel Campbell, has been speaking about the council's decision to vote down his proposal to have the positions of Mayor and Deputy Mayor rotated between the five political groups represented on the council.

Campbell tabled the motion after the council's first meeting when it became clear that FF, FG and Labour had made a deal to exclude the Sinn Féin councillor along with an independent councillor from both positions as well as from all committees. Key to Campbell's argument was that he and the independent polled over a combined 1000 first preference votes, almost a quarter of the total vote cast in the Town Council elections. Campbell pressed that in order for the council to get away from the exclusionist politics that dominated the council during the lifetime of previous authorities, no councillor's mandate should be ignored.

Campbell said: "The general public have lost faith in politics and politicians and the forming of deals that exclude a section of the public from the political process can only damage their view of politics even further. At the very start of its life, this council is in a prime position to encourage the public to participate in their local government. Deals excluding any councillor's mandate do not install confidence in those disillusioned with politics.

"Although attacking Fianna Fáil during the elections, Fine Gael and Labour were more than happy to jump into bed with that party at the very first meeting of the authority. With Sinn Féin being excluded from top council positions all over the 26 counties, it is obvious who the real opposition party is in this State." ENDS

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