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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 spokesperson on Collusion, Newry Armagh representative Conor Murphy has said that speculation that intelligence gathering will in the near future be controlled by MI5 offers no assurance that a policy of collusion that has operated here for the last two decades and been sanctioned at the highest levels will be abandoned.

Mr Murphy said:

"Any attempt to put MI5 in charge of intelligence gathering is merely a smokescreen to deflect attention from the record of Special Branch in their role in a policy of collusion aimed at killing members of the nationalist and republican community.

"Collusion is the abuse of power by the state. Cosmetic changes, name changes do not alter the fact that a specific policy of collusion between British state forces and unionist paramilitaries has resulted in the murder of countless nationalists and republicans. MI5 was an integral part of the architecture and the policy of collusion.

"Speculation that intelligence gathering will in the near future be controlled by MI5 is merely an attempt to cover up a policy of collusion that has involved all state agencies operating here. It offers no assurance that a policy of collusion that has operated here for the last two decades and been sanctioned at the highest levels will be abandoned.

"No-one will be fooled into believing that any change has taken place within the architecture - involving British securocrats from a number of agencies - until and unless the British government acknowledges its role in the deliberate policy of collusion and the murder of citizens. It is time to open up the files. There is a widespread demand for the truth to come out. It is about the issue of accountability and MI5 is not accountable. The British government need to tell us how it intends to bring real accountability to the heart of all policing operation carried out in the north." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the issue of institutionalised child abuse is being dealt with "appallingly" by the Government and the Taoiseach has failed to give political leadership. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The response of the Government to the resignation letter of Justice Laffoy flatly contradicts the statement of the Taoiseach that he accepts the judge's criticisms. The Government in fact refutes much of her valid criticism of the handling of this issue by the Minister for Education and his Department. The Taoiseach's remarks amounted to an admission of massive incompetence but the Government's detailed response to Justice Laffoy reveals something much worse - gross mismanagement and a disregard for the rights and sensitivities of victims.

"The Taoiseach has failed to give political leadership since the resignation of Justice Laffoy and instead has been more concerned to insulate his public image from the damaging fallout. Hence his feigned acceptance of the judge's criticism which is contradicted by the Government's statement.

"The Taoiseach should explain why he and his Cabinet colleagues agreed to the disgraceful deal between Minister Dempsey's predecessor Michael Woods and the religious orders. That deal and the current debacle over the Laffoy Commission, run totally counter to the historic apology to the victims which the Taoiseach issued on behalf of the State." ENDS

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Gerry Adams MP and Cllr. Sue Ramsey today met with the Parents of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The group are campaigning for greater parental choice and additional resources to be targeted to support the needs of children with Autism.

Speaking after the meeting Gerry Adams said:

"Over the past number of year there has been a greater awareness and diagnosis of Autism. After diagnosis many families are left to find there way through a complex system of care and array of therapies. They also have to act as the primary care givers. The parents I met today have struggled to raise their children in the most adverse circumstances.

"Last year Martin McGuinness as Education Minister released a report into the needs of these children and their families. At that time Martin said, 'I support the view that every child is unique and that provision has to be tailored to meet the child's needs, not the other way round'

"Since suspension of the Assembly, the implementation of this report has been painfully slow. Through this period the needs of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have yet to be fully met.

"There is a need to support these families and children. There is a need to provide therapies such as Applied Behavioural Analysis at home and at school. And there is a need for these therapies to be free.

"I hope that the Department will now move to implement of the Taskforce recommendations and work with these families to develop a dedicated school of children with ASD." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator, Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness speaking today said:

"Elections are a matter of political principle. It is vital to set a new context - create a new dynamic - without that there is no prospect of progress.

"But it must also be recognised that even with an election date that there is no guarantee of future initiatives from republicans.

"We have to remember the last time Mr Blair slapped republicans and the Taoiseach in the face by cancelling elections. This has created a deep well of anger and frustration.

"Moving things forward is not just the responsibility of republicans. There is a collective responsibility on all of us." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate and representative for Dublin West, Marylou McDonald has described the confrontational approach being adopted by Fingal County Council as wholly wrong and irresponsible. She said that Sinn Féin would continue to support local residents and to campaign for the overturning of unfair service charges.

Ms. McDonald said:

"The confrontational approach being adopted by Fingal County Council, not just today but over the last number of years, is wrong and irresponsible. Sinn Féin is supporting the peaceful protests being organised by local residents and we support council workers who are collecting all bins this morning.

"This issue is not just about the introduction of bin charges, it is also about the wider issue of ongoing attempts to privatise the service and the failure of central Government to fund local government. Sinn Féin will continue to support local residents and to campaign for the overturning of unfair service charges."ENDS

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Sinn Féin North Belfast representative Gerry Kelly has said that he will be travelling to London to assist the campaign of Kelly McBride, the sister of murdered north Belfast father of two Peter McBride, in the Brent East by-election.

Mr Kelly said:

"The McBride family have fought a long, determined and dignified campaign to get justice for Peter McBride.

"Sinn Féin support their campaign for justice. Sinn Féin support the McBride family's campaign for justice and we will offer whatever help we can in support of Kelly McBride's election campaign.

"Sinn Féin supports this initiative. It provides the McBride family with an opportunity to raise their demand that the two Scots Guards convicted of murdering Peter McBride should be removed from the British Army." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, Bairbre de Brún has expressed concern at the failure of the British government and the Human Rights Commission to address serious problems in the make up and operation of the commission. Bairbre de Brún has also written to the Chief Commissioner Brice Dickson about the need for it to restore public confidence in its willingness to protect the rights of all.

Ms de Brún said:

"The Human Rights Commission is a key component of the Good Friday Agreement which Sinn Féin strongly argued for and supported. We are very concerned at the Human Rights Commission's approach to a number of issues such as fair employment and the Chief Commissioner's inappropriate behaviour in the Holy Cross case. We approach this issue on the basis of wanting the best possible Human Rights Commission.

"The Chief Commissioner's actions in respect of the Holy Cross case, particularly his correspondence with former PSNI Chief Ronnie Flanagan, has undermined public confidence. It was totally inappropriate. The rights of little children should not depend on the area in which they live or the religion of their family.

"The Chief Commissioner has not dealt satisfactorily with these concerns about the way the Commission has developed under his stewardship. We have discussed our concerns and what is required fix the problem with the two governments. We need to look at a restructuring that includes the composition, the appointments process and then the powers and resources of the Commission. The British government need to put in place the measures to guarantee the integrity, independence and effectiveness of the Commission. The Human Rights Commission is broken. It needs fixed.

"I have written once again to the Commission stressing the need for it also to restore public confidence in its' integrity and its' willingness to promote and protect the rights of all regardless identity or political persuasion. ENDS

Note to Editors

The case which was taken by the parent of a child attending Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast against the then RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan is due to start proceedings today.

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Sinn Féin County Councilor Gerry Murray has condemned a statement by Minster Sheamus Brennan suggesting that CIE should immediately start selling its property portfolio in order to fund its current capital spending. Minster Brennan was addressing a meeting of ISME when he made the statement.

Cllr Murray said.

"The selling of property at our Railway stations would very seriously compromise the future development of our Rail Network. In terms of the Western Rail Corridor it is extremely important that the CIE property along the line should not be sold, as it would compromise the opening of the railway. Minster Brennan seems to be more interested in pandering to the agenda of developers rather than making provision for the future transport needs of the country.

"The existing CIE land banks at our Railway stations should be left intact in order to allow for future expansion of our Rail Network. With more and more commuter, inter city and freight trains due to come into service, these land banks will be needed in order to make provision for car parking, warehouses and other services. I am astonished at the Minster's proposals and one must question his commitment to the future development of our Rail network."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on the EU Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called the Government's plan to solicit private sponsorship of aspects of the Irish EU Presidency "a deplorable idea reflecting appalling bad judgment".  Speaking after the Minister's announcement at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"I was absolutely floored by his suggestion.  Surely this Government cannot be unaware of the widespread perception among the Irish public that the EU represents the interests of profit over people, or the equally widespread perception of corruption among Irish establishment politicians.  Given all the expensive tribunals, scandals and controversies about brown envelopes and backroom deals, you would think that the Government would make every effort to overcome the automatic association of government with business interests, not make it worse.   

"This sponsorship proposal sets a bad precedent and sends the entirely wrong message about the appropriate relationship between government and the private sector.  Ultimately it reflects what everyone fears - a drive towards a future where all of public life is for sale.  I hope it will not come to this and moreover that the Irish EU Presidency will not bring it closer to this point."   ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokespersons on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD and Assembly Member Gerry McHugh have welcomed the EU Court of Justice decision this morning supporting the right of member states to temporarily ban GM foods if they are suspected of posing a risk to public health or the environment. The ruling was in a case brought by the US corporation Monsanto which, with the support of the US Government, has been attempting to force the EU to accept GM products.

Deputy Ferris and Mr McHugh said:

"We fully welcome the decision of the court and hope that it will encourage other member states including Ireland and Britain to resist the pressure to admit these unnecessary and unproven products into Ireland. The case against GM is strong and the Court of Justice has now opened the way for regional and national authorities to conduct proper independent scientific and economic investigations to prove why they ought not be allowed to be grown or sold under their jurisdiction. In this regard we again call upon the Irish Government to conduct a full public consultation prior to making any decision on GM".ENDS

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Sinn Féin in Waterford makes history while launching its Local Election Candidates for 2004. The party is standing six candidates, three in the city and three in the county. This is the largest team of Sinn Féin candidates to contest an election in Waterford in the history of the state. Local Representative David Cullinane has also been selected as the Sinn Féin European Election Candidate for Munster.  This election will take place on the same day as the local elections.

Speaking at the European Election convention in Limerick Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams congratulated the party membership in Waterford and wished all the candidates well. He added that the party would again 'make history' by electing Sinn Féin Representatives onto Waterford City and County Council.

The selected candidates are Joe Kelly-City Ward 1, Frank Walsh City-Ward 2, David Cullinane City-Ward 3, Brendan Mansfield-Dungarvan Town and County Council Wards, John Power-Suir C.C. Ward and Liz Whelan-Kilmacthomas C.C.Ward. Longstanding party representative Davie Lane was elected as the Director of Elections.  

Sinn Féin Waterford Representative and Ard Comhairle Member David Cullinane said the number and calibre of the chosen candidates is a tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly in developing the party over recent years. He paid a special tribute to the party members whose commitment he described as incredible. He said he looked forward to contesting the election and predicted that the story of the election will be the success of Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin received a tremendous vote at the last general election here in Waterford which was a clear signal of what is to come. We are putting forward our Republican Labour analysis to the people of Waterford and offering them a real alternative. At present Sinn Féin has no elected representatives here in Waterford yet we are the only political party with a full time constituency office. Our commitment to serving the people is unquestionable with more and more people responding to this fact."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the publication of draft legislation that will enable Sunday racing.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Sunday racing has been in existence since 1986 in the south. There are now over 50 Sunday fixtures and over 335,000 people enjoyed Sunday racing in Ireland last year. The relaxation of on-course betting restrictions in the Six Counties is long overdue and will allow the development of Sunday racing.

"Given the problems facing our tourism industry and rural communities the potential to bring money into local communities as a result of the relaxation of Sunday on-course betting rules and the development of Sunday racing should not be under estimated.

"This issue was dealt with by the Assembly almost three years ago. While Sunday racing is permitted the failure of the DUP Social Development Ministers to back on-course betting, despite Assembly support, has hindered the industry's ability to develop it. How much money has been to the local economy lost since then as a result of DUP fundamentalism?" ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has this morning been meeting with parents who may be forced to drop out of VTOS run back to work schemes, due to the Government's decision to remove childcare assistance from the courses. Deputy Crowe asked 'are the Government now so far removed from reality that they don't realise that removing childcare support will force many parents to drop out of these courses trapping them in a cycle of poverty.' He will be contacting the Department of Education to discuss the matter.

Deputy Crowe said:

"This morning I have been in touch with women in the Tallaght area who may be forced to drop out of back to work schemes because the Government removed childcare assistance from the courses in a shock decision last week.

"This decision follows on from serious cutbacks in CE schemes and FÁS moves to lay off workers on the Government-backed employment scheme, the Jobs Initiative.

"This highlights the complete contradiction that exists at the heart of government. On the one hand they are publicly saying that they are concerned at the numbers from disadvantaged backgrounds taking up higher education places, on the other hand they are attacking full time courses such as those run by VTOS, which are designed to help people back into education and into the workforce.

"If the government is serious about tackling disadvantage they need to completely reverse the direction that they are taking.

"It is time that they were honest and admitted that it is ordinary workers and the disadvantaged who are going to pay the price for ten years of mismanagement of public finances."ENDS

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin MCGuinness MP will meet British Secretary of State Paul Murphy today, Monday 8th September, at 3.30 pm at Castle Buildings.

Mr McGuinness will discuss the current political situation, the need to set a definative date for elections, the ongoing problems with the operation of the Human Rights Commission and today's announcement on Maghaberry.

He will be available to speak to the media both before and after the meeting.

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Sinn Féin Prison Spokesperson Cllr Michael Browne has said that the recommendations from the Steele Review into safety at Maghaberry should lead to the early introduction of segregation.

Cllr Browne said:

"The setting up of this Review was a tacit admission that forced integration does not work. There is no logic in trying to force politically hostile prisoners to live together in prison.

"Now that the NIO have accepted the recommendations of Steele Review into prison safety it is a question of when and how segregation will be applied across the board.

"It is a question of commonsense." ENDS

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The Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin should establish a public inquiry into how dozens of unnecessary caesarean hysterectomies were allowed to be carried out at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, according to Sinn Féin Health spokeperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD. He was commenting on the beginning of the Garda investigation into the activities of former consultant obstetrician Dr. Michael Neary after the Medical Council submitted their report on Neary to the gardai at the weekend. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The commencement of the Garda inquiry is very welcome. It should not be used as an excuse by the government to put off the necessary public inquiry. The issue here is not simply the activities of one obstetrician. Women were victimised in this way over a period of years in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. No-one shouted stop, except the victims themselves who realised too late what had happened to them. Members of the medical and nursing staff and the hospital management must have been aware of what was going on but chose not to act, or worse, co-operated in practices whereby women were treated in an horrific manner.

"The women victims of this scandal, some of them teenagers at the time of their operations, have been through dreadful experiences. Without their knowledge or consent, they had their wombs removed unnecessarily and were prevented from having more children. These women are victims of a form of medical butchery.

"I met the Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin on this issue on two occasions, including with members of Patient Focus, and I repeat the call made then. There must be a full public inquiry and there must be a scheme of compensation for the women. We must know how such practices were allowed to continue for so long in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and the lessons for the structure, management and delivery of our health services must be learned and acted upon."ENDS

„On my proposal the North Eastern Health Board recommended an appropriate process of compensation, and requested the Minister for Health and Children to establish a full public inquiry into the delivery of Maternity Services at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. This should now be announced by the Minister without delay.‰ ENDS

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Dublin City Manager John Fitzgerald's threat, that bin workers will be ordered to leave behind the domestic waste of those who have refused to pay the service charges, is due to begin tomorrow (Monday). The Campaign Against the Bin Tax will lobby bin workers tomorrow morning. Residents will lobby bin workers at the Rathmines depot tomorrow morning at 7am.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's action Sinn Féin spokesperson Daithí Doolan said the lobbying was aimed at supporting the City Council workers in their stance of refusing to implement dictates from City Hall.

He said:

"Communities are in full support of the worker's attempt to collect everyone's rubbish regardless of payment or non-payment. It is vital that workers and communities stand together in their opposition to the imposition of this bin tax. Neither bin workers nor residents benefit from this double taxation. We all understand that the introduction of this tax has nothing to do with an environmental strategy and everything to do with double taxation and privatisation of our public services."

"I have every confidence that both workers and residents will continue to support each other during this campaign.

"Tomorrow's actions are just the start of us stepping up our campaign against this tax.

"Sinn Féin remain committed to this campaign and to ensuring a real strategy for the environment is implemented. This strategy must be based on reducing, reducing and recycling our waste."ENDS

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Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has voiced his deep concern that tomorrow morning many parents will be forced to drop out of VTOS (Vocation Training Opportunities Scheme) schemes due to a government decision to remove childcare assistance. Of the 5000 people on VTOS courses more than 1,000 are young parents and the government gave them just one week to make alternative arrangements.

Deputy Crowe said:

"Last week the government contacted all those who were accepted onto VTOS schemes and those running the courses to say that childcare assistance would no longer be provided to those on the courses. There was no consultation or no advance notice. With many of the courses, which are designed to help people back into the workforce, due to start tomorrow morning, parents were given less than one week to try and make alternative arrangements. Give the cost of childcare in Dublin City what it effectively means is that parents will no longer be able to participate in such courses.

"It is clear that the governments answer to a down turn in the economy is to attack those most disadvantaged in our society to try and make savings. It's short sighted and defies logic. All it will do is trap young people in a cycle of poverty that they will not be able to get out of alone. Even at this late hour I am calling on Education Minister Dempsey to reverse his decision. "ENDS

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Sinn Féin representative for Waterford David Cullinane was this afternoon selected as the party's Munster candidate in next year's European elections. Speaking following the convention Mr. Cullinane said:

"I am delighted to have been selected as the party's candidate for Munster and will be building on the foundations laid by the previous candidate Martin Ferris. Over the last five years Sinn Féin has gone from strength to strength in Munster. Our success in the local and general elections shows that our agenda for change - in terms of the peace process, rural regeneration, the environment and the direction of the European Union - is popular.

"The public debate on the European Union during the two referendums on the Nice Treaty and indeed the deliberations of the National Forum on Europe have reflected significant public disquiet about the political character of the EU. People the length and breath of the country have demonstrated an appetite to engage, challenge and exert their influence on the shape and direction of the EU.

"With deliberations on the draft new EU Constitution well under way it is essential that the voices of those, who are concerned about the direction of what is the most radical reassessment of the EU political project to date, continue to be heard.

"Sinn Féin politics are about democracy, equality, the rights of citizens and of nations.   We are the radical alternative to the failed politics of the establishment parties who have been invisible for so long in Europe. Our campaign begins here in Munster today. We will be taking the debate on the EU Presidency, the new draft EU Constitution and the re-formulation of CAP to towns and villages throughout Munster. We are campaigning to make a real difference and to see an all Ireland Sinn Féin team returned to Europe."ENDS

Profile of David Cullinane

David Cullinane is the Sinn Féin representative for Waterford and is a member of the party's Ard Chomhairle. He is also keenly involved in Munster Sinn Féin and is a leading player in its re-development.

He played a leading role in the first and second Nice Treaty referendum campaigns and is involved in the campaign to secure a radiotherapy unit in the South East.

David was educated at St Pauls Community College Lisduggan and later at the Dublin Institute of Technology studying management. He is currently employed as Assistant Spare Parts Manager at Autoboland Garage Waterford.

David is actively involved in community development. He is a Director and Management Committee member of the Larchville & Lisduggan Community Development Project. David is a committee member of Waterford Against Racism, a broad-based group set up to combat racism.

He was the party's candidate for Waterford in the 2002 General Election and received 2,955 votes.

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