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


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Commenting on news that offices belonging to the Rainbow Project were been broken into, ransacked and burgled, Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady said:

“I am deeply disappointed to learn that offices belonging to the Rainbow Project were burgled just over a week before the start of Belfast Pride.

“The Rainbow Project provide an invaluable service to many in the community and will continue to do so.

“Those engaged in these criminal attacks on people’s property need to face the full rigours of the law.

“I would appeal to anyone with information about this burglary to contact the PSNI.” 

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Speaking today, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said:

“Since the Brexit vote in Britain, the process has been marked by the British government changing positions, stalling, and making and breaking agreements.

“Today, the Cabinet will meet to discuss contingency plans for various Brexit scenarios. That is the right and sensible thing to do.

“It should be remembered that, in December, the Taoiseach made clear that the ‘backstop’ was the contingency plan and that this was a cast iron guarantee.

“Last week, I asked the Taoiseach about the ‘backstop’ as agreed in December. At the time, the Taoiseach equivocated and failed to stand over the backstop as agreed.

“Since then, we have seen further chaos in Britain with emboldened Brexiteers seeking to abandon the December backstop altogether.

“Our citizens, our economy, and our businesses require certainty.

“There have been reports that the EU is preparing to amend the backstop arrangements.  We need clarity on this point.

“The Taoiseach is outlining plans for failure, but has yet to outline his plan for success.

“He needs to make clear, with our EU partners, that they still stand over the backstop as agreed, that will make good on the agreement made in December, and how they intend to bring legal clarity and certainty in advance of the withdrawal agreement.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan is calling on the Belfast Trust to assist a West Belfast man suffering from a severe form of epilepsy who is seeking access to medicinal cannabis.

The West Belfast MLA said: "Today I facilitated a meeting between the Belfast Trust and the family of Patrick McMahon.

"Patrick suffers from a severe form of epilepsy called Lennox Gastaut Syndrome which causes multiple seizures on a daily basis.

"As a result of these seizures Patrick has sustained a number of serious injuries in falls including broken bones, lacerations and burns.

"Patrick's doctor believes he could benefit from a cannabis based medicine called Epidiolex, which is available via a compassionate access programme. However, Patrick is facing difficulties in accessing it.

"At today's meeting I expressed the urgency of Patrick's situation to the Belfast Trust and sought further clarification on what can be done to ensure he receives necessary treatment.

"I will continue to support Patrick and the McMahon family in their efforts to secure the care he needs."

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has called for the regulation of receivers to be put in place. 

The Donegal TD said it was frustrating that years after he first raised the issue it is still being kicked around working groups and draft reports and has called for it to be put on the political agenda in the Dáil’s Autumn session. 

Teachta Doherty said: 

“The lack of regulation of receivers is an issue that is raised with me on an ongoing basis. Small businesses, tenants and homeowners all find themselves dealing with receivers in difficult circumstances.

"Unlike liquidators and examiners there is practically no regulation of this group of people.

"I have had contact with many businesses , tenants and others unhappy with how the receivers appointed have acted.

"The allegations range from feeling intimidated by hired agents of the receivers, problems related to the taxation arrangements under receivership and accusations that the receivers are undermining the potential survival of businesses and simply acting in effect as liquidators. 

"In January 2016 the then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald wrote to me after I raised the lack of regulation in the Dáil to say that the Company Law Review Group was looking at the issue.

"Now two and a half years later the new Minister has informed me that a Working Group on Receivers is discussing the issue and hope to present a report soon. 

"To date, NAMA inform me, it has paid out €129m to receivers. Over this period the banks have employed receivers thousands of times- all without regulation.

"This issue must be tackled urgently. Receivers must be brought fully under the regulatory system so that homeowners, businesses and tenants can exercise their rights.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said the leaked details of the Central Bank’s Report on the culture in Irish banking contain some positive points, but that the Irish people don’t need a report from the Central Bank to tell them that the banks have failed to put the interests of customers first and that the suggestions have already been publicly made by the Central Bank.

The Donegal TD added the report only strengthens the need for the government to actively support his Central Bank (Amendment) Bill which would impose penalties on bankers who lie to the Central Bank.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The details about the report contain some positive elements but these suggestions are already known to government because they formed the basis of the Central Bank’s submission to the Law Reform Commission on this issue. Central to this submission was the call for individuals to be held accountable for their actions. This is something I have long called for and have legislation awaiting a money message from government to progress. They should now release this message and allow the Bill to progress and pass. The Bill would impose jail time on bankers who lie to the Central Bank.

“I have consistently called for measures to bring individual accountability to the banking sector. Before the Dáil recess I again called on the government to bring forward a suite of measures such as setting up a dedicated unit within an existing criminal agency for investigation and prosecution to deal with white-collar crime and holding individuals responsible for actions by the bank under their watch even after they retire. These recommendations must be progressed on the back of this report.

“I believe for the thousands of families caught up in the tracker mortgages or in dispute with the banks over arrears or other issues the report’s finding that the banks have failed to put the consumer first will hardly be news. The cultural problems go deeper than any report can solve.  The tracker issue itself was a symptom of the poisonous culture but so too was the reaction and the still ongoing efforts of the banks to minimise the numbers affected and to adopt a combative approach to some groups of impacted families.

“I await the full report with interest but more importantly I await concrete legislative proposals that make individual accountability central in Irish law. This will challenge the government to overcome its ‘banks first’ policy and for once to adopt a ‘consumer first’ attitude.” 

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Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has condemned those behind a security alert in the Irish Street area of Derry. 

Cllr. Jackson said:

"The security alert in Bann Drive has caused significant disruption to local residents this morning with many homes being evacuated and the street closed. 

"Those responsible for this disruption have shown complete disregard for the people of the Waterside. 

"Attacks such as this must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

"There can be no justification for this type of activity and I would appeal to anyone with information to contact the police."

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has expressed condolences following the death of a 16-year old boy and a man in his 60s in a boating tragedy in Donegal.

The Foyle MP said:

“The city is shocked and saddened to learn that a 16-year-old boy from Derry has died along with a man in his 60s in this tragedy at Malin.

“This is terrible news for any family to receive and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

“It must also have been a traumatic experience for those holidaymakers who saw the boat get into difficulty and raised the alarm.

“I want to commend the action of the lifeboat crews involved in the rescue effort and hope those injured can make a full recovery.

“Our sympathies and condolences go to those bereaved by this tragedy and I’m sure the communities in both Derry and Donegal will support them in the time ahead.” 

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Sinn Féin MLAs Colm Gildernew and Ian Milne meet with the Human Rights Commission to discuss the recent Commission for Older People’s report into Dunmurry Manor care home.

Following the meeting the party spokesperson on carers Colm Gildernew said, “We had a productive meeting with the HRC this afternoon on how we can ensure the highest quality and standards for adult social care in line with the COPNI's recommendations.

“The Older Person's Commissioner's report should be a catalyst for much-needed systemic change in adult social care.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Older people Ian Milne added,

“It is important that any wrong doing is identified, reported and dealt with in a timely and effective manner. Everyone in care, regardless of their age, must have their rights and dignity respected. The COPNI report raises serious concerns about the adult social care system and we are determined to ensure these concerns are fully addressed.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has called on the international community to take immediate action to bring an end to the war against the Palestinian people.

The call comes after two more Palestinians were killed by Israeli airstrikes over the weekend in the Gaza Strip. 

The West Belfast MLA said:

"I condemn the brutal and violent actions of the Israeli forces who have killed two more Palestinians by airstrikes over the weekend in Gaza. 

“Over 130 Palestinians have been murdered by Israeli forces since March 2018. This is a massacre and would not be accepted anywhere else in the world. 

“But the international community remain silent. The routine statements of ‘concern’ must translate into sanction. Israeli cannot be allowed to act with impunity for committing state murder. 

“The Irish government must take the lead and send the Israeli ambassador home and immediately recognise the State of Palestine as approved by the Dáil over four years ago. 

“The passing of the Occupied Territories Bill in the Seanad is a momentous step towards banning the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources which come from Israeli settlements.

“Sinn Féin will continue to argue for justice, rights and peace in Palestine and make our voice heard against the abuse of International Law which damages the two-state solution.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcoming the passing of Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill 2018 through the Oireachtas today. This legislation will allow for commencement of parts 2 and 3 of the primary legislation, which will give shared parental rights to certain same sex parents and give recognition to their families.

Senator Warfield said:

“Today is a really important day in the lives of many LGBTQ parents and their families and a proud day for those who vigorously campaigned to that end. It has been hard fought for and long overdue.

“Three years on from marriage equality, Government have finally corrected technical errors that left legal uncertainties for parents and their children.

“While this legislation covers those who conceived through clinical insemination, many more LGBTQ families are waiting for government action on the likes of surrogacy, home insemination and reciprocal IVF.

“Sinn Féin will be working to ensure that the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill will be fully inclusive of the needs of all LGBTQ families.” 

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Matt Carthy MEP was the main speaker at a commemoration for Patrick McManus and James Crossan at the outskirts of Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan last Sunday.  McManus and Crossan were IRA Volunteers who were killed in the summer of 1958.

 

At a well attended event on Sunday members of the local community were joined by Republicans from across counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Leitrim, Tyrone and Roscommon.  Elected representatives in attendance included Fermanagh South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew, her constituency MLA colleague, Seán Lynch, Sligo Leitrim TD Martin Kenny and local councillor, Damian Brady.  Matt Carthy’s running mate for the upcoming Cavan Monaghan General Election, Pauline Tully, was also in attendance.

 

During the course of his address, Matt Carthy said:

 

“It’s an honour to be speaking here at this commemoration of Volunteers Patrick McManus and James Crossan.

 

“The fact that we are all meeting here today to remember them, sixty years after their deaths in the summer of 1958, is testament to the esteem in which Patrick and James are held – for their vision, their courage, and their sacrifice.

 

The loss of these two young men in the struggle for Irish freedom remains a painful legacy and has deeply affected this border community.

 

Tribute

 

“I especially want to pay tribute to the members of the families of these men who are here with us today.

 

“IRA Volunteer Patrick McManus was OC of the IRA’s South Fermanagh Brigade. He died on an isolated country road on the border, very near here, on this day in 1958 when a bomb he was transporting exploded prematurely.

 

“Patrick’s death took place in the context of a series of IRA attacks across the Six Counties on 15, 16 and 17 July.

 

“James Crossan, the Sinn Féin Organiser for County Cavan, was assassinated by the RUC on 24 August 1958. That Sunday evening sixty years ago, James had travelled to Swanlinbar to procure a Tricolour to fly at a Sinn Féin meeting planned for the following night in Ballyconnell.

 

“He and his neighbour offered others a lift to the border and then walked with them over the crossing. As the unarmed James Crossan walked back to the car, he was shot dead by RUC assassins lying in wait on the Cavan side of the border.

 

“The RUC’s attempted cover-up about the circumstances of this assassination quickly failed as the truth became clear.

 

“The Resistance Campaign that began in December 1956 took place in an incredibly oppressive and difficult context.

 

“The campaign occurred in an Ireland stunted by conservatism North and South and marked by economic stagnation and gross inequality leading to massive unemployment and emigration.

 

“The campaign was met with internment without trial both sides of the border, with harassment and repression.

 

“But it showed that despite the restraints imposed on people across this island, there were still young Irish men and women willing to risk their lives to achieve a truly free nation. Thousands of people attended the funerals of the volunteers who lost their lives during this campaign.

 

“This spark of resistance in dark times showed the world that Irish freedom was unfinished business, and it inspired a new generation of republicans. The men and women of that Republican generation deserve our recognition and gratitude.

 

Building Peace

 

“Republicans had always made clear that if a peaceful and democratic path of struggle towards our objectives was opened up then we were morally and politically obliged to take that path.

 

“The recent peace process opened that new way forward and the IRA, with the same courage they showed during every phase of the struggle, endorsed that new strategy, that new road to our objectives, and set aside armed actions for good.

 

“The peace process must be built upon and this is a work in progress, as the display of sectarianism we have seen over the past weeks in the North has shown.

 

“Sinn Féin remains committed to re-establishing the power-sharing Executive and Assembly in the North. But we need partners who are willing to govern for all citizens on the basis of equality and respect – partners who accept that citizens have rights which cannot be denied any longer.

 

“Some of the challenges that we face today are very different from those we have faced in the past – but our goals of achieving a united Irish republic based on equality and social justice remain the same.

 

“Undoing Partition and its effects continues to be central to the building of a progressive, inclusive, open and forward-looking society.

 

“Here in this state, some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have been in power since Partition.

 

“Between them they built a conservative and corrupt state with an economy designed to serve the interests of the few – the wealthy, privileged minority. The housing and homelessness crisis, and the crisis in our health service today are clear indicators that these parties continue to fail the Irish people.

 

“In order to change this country for the better, Sinn Féin wants to be in government North and South. But not at any price. We don't want to be part of the system. We want to change the system.

 

“We will only participate in a government based on equality, that improves people’s lives and reflects our republican ideals.

 

 

Brexit

 

“Here in this part of the country, the challenge of Brexit and the prospect of a hardening of the border are foremost in our minds.

 

“The approach of the chaotic and divided British Tories in these negotiations has been to put Ireland last. The Irish government and the EU need to make it clear that Ireland needs to come first. We will not be collateral damage in the Tory Brexit.

 

“In recent days we have seen the British government’s White Paper on the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

 

“Sinn Féin welcomes the commitment to no hard border on the island of Ireland, a commitment to the letter and spirit and of the Good Friday Agreement, and the commitment to a backstop for the Island of Ireland.

 

“But we were given these commitments as part of the agreement last December, and we had been promised legal clarity and certainty by March of this year and again in June.

 

“We urgently need legal certainty about post-Brexit arrangements in Ireland for our political and economic stability.

 

“It is well past time to move beyond promises. What is required is immediate and urgent negotiations to deliver clarity and certainty on Ireland’s interests and the rights of citizens.

 

“The challenge of Brexit is changing attitudes towards Irish reunification. Brexit is clearly causing people to question the constitutional future of the North and encouraging support for an all-island economic, political and social framework. 

 

“Poll after poll in the past two years have shown a consistent rise in the proportion of people who say they would vote for a united Ireland. This trend is most pronounced among young people.

 

Irish Unity

 

“Such a significant change in attitudes represents a historic opportunity for all those of who support a united Ireland to act together to win a referendum on Irish unity in the near future, a right provided for under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

 

“A referendum on a United Ireland is an explicit provision of the Good Friday Agreement, supported by an overwhelming majority of voters on this island two decades ago.

 

“Now is the time for all of us who believe a united Ireland will provide a better future - parties, community groups, trade unions, businesses and individuals - to work together to seize this historic opportunity. We need to build popular support for the demand for a referendum while also working patiently to convince those who disagree that their interests will be represented in s new Ireland, and that their voices will be heard and respected.

 

“Like the many other Volunteers and republicans of their generation, Patrick McManus and James Crossan carried our struggle, our hopes and our ideals through incredibly difficult times. They remain for us an inspiration.

 

“The sacrifices of the past have unlocked the door to change and now as a people all that remains is for us to open it.

 

“Our republican vision is inspired by the sacrifice of our patriot dead but reinforced by our obligation to the children of the present and future generations.

 

“There are no limits to what we can do or the potential of our political strength. It is an important time for new members to become involved and help organise Sinn Féin in every community and neighbourhood. Our party wants you talent, ideas and energy.

 

“Today Irish unity is on the immediate political agenda. It is a realisable goal. Together, and with the memory of Patrick and James in our hearts, we will achieve it. That is the only fitting tribute to their memory and their sacrifice.

 

“I hope we can go from here today with renewed momentum and confidence and make that vision our shared reality”.

 

 

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed a PQ response from the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe which confirms that there is no evidence that the new mineral oil marker introduced in 2015 to deter fuel laundering has been compromised.

Teachta Adams said:

“Since the introduction in April 2015 by the Revenue and the British authorities of a new mineral oil marker (Accutrace S10 TM) into all oil products, the incidence of the dumping of sludge has decreased.

“In his response to me, the Minister for Finance said: ‘I am advised by Revenue that there is no evidence, based on the analysis of the diesel sludge found recently in County Louth, that the marker has been compromised. While available evidence indicates that Accutrace S10TM cannot be laundered by conventional methods, Revenue continues to keep the situation under review and remains vigilant and continues to give high priority to this issue.’

“While this is welcome news, the upmost vigilance is needed to prevent those criminal gangs involved in fuel laundering from causing serious environmental and health problems, putting at risk legitimate business and jobs, as well as imposing significant financial costs on local councils and the taxpayer.”

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 The Taoiseach must prioritise cast-iron legal guarantees to protect Ireland’s interests after the British Government last night ‘tore up’ its own Brexit proposals, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill MLA has said.

The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader was commenting after Theresa May agreed to a series of amendments to stave off opposition from hard Brexit supporters in Westminster.

Michelle O'Neill said: 

“What Theresa May did last night was effectively tear up her own proposals from Chequers. Her Government is in chaos and in her rush to placate the DUP and the Brexiteers, she has now made a ‘no deal’ crash scenario much more likely.

“That is reckless. A crash will have a devastating impact on the island of Ireland so there is now an increased onus on the Irish Government and our EU partners to ensure our national interests are protected in the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

“Their commitments to safeguard the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement; to prevent any hard border on the island of Ireland and to protect citizens’ rights must be fully honoured.

 “In light of the British Government’s duplicity, cast-iron legal assurances are clearly now required to protect the Irish protocol and backstop. This must be urgently prioritised by the Dublin Government when the EU's General Affairs Council meets on Friday.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on the government to ensure that the new Regeneration and Development Agency has strong powers, a serious Budget and full democratic accountability.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The idea of a strong Government agency to properly manage public lands could be a positive development. 

"However we will need to see the full detail of what this new agency entails before making any judgement.

“Such an agency needs too have strong powers and the necessary funds. It needs to work in partnership with Local Authorities and be fully accountable to elected members in Councils and the Oireachtas.

“If the Minister for Housing fails to recognise the importance of a well-resourced, transparent operation then we are at risk of having another unaccountable quango on the government books.

“It is important that this agency has a defined purpose and can do what local authorities are currently unable to do regarding the redevelopment of brownfield sites owned by other state agencies throughout our towns and cities.

“However I would be wary of attempts to bypass local democratic structures such as county development plans.

“The agency also needs to have a role in acting to constrain land hoarding and speculation in the private sector to ensure that Councils have an adequate supply of residentially zoned land to meet social and affordable housing need.

“The government is already half a decade behind in terms of seriously addressing the severe housing need in this State. 

"If this new Agency is adequately resourced, with teeth, and can hit the ground running it has the potential to make a welcome impact on the housing crisis.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has said that “Rebuilding Ireland is failing and will only meet 30% of real social housing need”.

Ó Broin called on the government to double capital investment in social housing. Two years on from the publication of Rebuilding Ireland social housing delivery remains glacial with less real social homes to be delivered in 2018 than in 2017.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Real social housing need currently stands at over 140,000 households when those in short term RAS and HAP tenancies are added to the those on council lists.

“Rebuilding Ireland plans to deliver just 40,000 real social homes over six years. This will meet just 30% of the current real need. Given that need is likely to increase in the years ahead this target is simply not enough. 

“To date the pace of social housing delivery has been glacial. In 2016 just 4,922 real social homes were delivered. Last year the figure rose to 6297. However this year Government plans to fund just 5,869 real social houses, less than last years output. 

“This is despite the cross party special Dáil Committee on Housing and Homelessness recommending that at least 10,000 units owned by local authorities and approved housing bodies. were required annually.

“What is even more concerning is that out of the nearly 6,000 real social homes delivered last year only 780 of these were built by local authorities.

“The Government targets are too low, capital investment is simply not enough and the pace of delivery is too slow.

“If Budget 2019 is to be a housing budget then capital investment in social and affordable housing must double to ensure an adequate supply of public homes.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has encouraged people to register to vote through the new online registration service.  

Colm Gildernew said:

“Online voter registration has been available from the Electoral Office for people in the north from 18 June. 

“This new system makes democracy more accessible to all people and enables them to exercise their right to vote.

“This will also address the democratic deficit which exists here due to tens of thousands of people being removed from the electoral register over recent years, including 60’000 in Belfast alone. 

“The Electoral Office should also reinstate the schools registration programme which has the potential to get 10,000 young people every year on to the electoral register. 

“I would encourage people to use the online registration service on your smartphone, tablet or PC, it is available at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and the process only takes five minutes.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has sent his best wishes to those affected by an ammonia spill today in Young’s Seafood processing factory in Kilkeel.

Speaking after it emerged that thirteen people have been taken to hospital following the spill, the South Down MP commented,

“I sincerely hope that everyone who has had to be taken to hospital as a result of this spill makes a full and speedy recovery.

“I would like to also pay tribute to the fire and ambulance services who arrived at the scene quickly and to those who isolated the leak before it could cause further damage.”

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Full text of Mary Lou McDonald’s speech at the solidarity rally with the families of Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey at the Andersonstown Barracks site on Monday 16 July 2018 

A chairde,

Tá muid anseo anocht chun seasamh gualainn le gualainn lenár gcairde agus lenár gcomrádaithe Gerry agus Bobby agus lena gclana.

Agus ba mhian liom bheith soiléir, is naimhde na síochána agus naimhde an phobail iad siúd atá taobh thar de na hionsaithe seo. 

We are here today to stand in solidarity and support of our two friends and comrades, Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey and their families.

Unlike the cowards who attacked their family homes, Gerry and Bobby are genuine Republicans and have stood firm against those who would attempt to drag us back to the failures of the past. 

And let me be absolutely clear here today, the people who launched these attacks are enemies of our community. 

They are enemies of peace. They are against their own people and against their own community. 

Recently posters appeared temporarily in this area saying ‘Gerry, we’re not going anywhere’. 

Well it is you who are not going anywhere.

Mar sin bhí na hionsaithe ar tithe Bobby Storey and Gerry Adams mícheart agus tá sé soiléir gur theip glan orthu siúd a rinne iad. 

So the attacks on the homes of Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey, were wrong and are a mark of failure. 

But it is also important to state that the attacks on the people of the Bogside, the Fountain, in Portadown and the Short Strand are also wrong and a measure of the failure of those behind them.

The sectarian attacks that we have seen in recent days were disgraceful. 

Those involved have no right to claim to be Irish republicans because, in their sectarianism and their anti-social activities they are the very opposite of republicanism.

The only war these people are waging is a war against their own people and against their own communities. 

Is abhár náire agus aifeáltais iad agus ba chóir dóibh stadadh anois.

They are a disgrace and they should stop.

Equality and a new Ireland are the core of what we are, who we are and what we are building.

Bhí Gerry agus Bobby chun tosaigh san obair sin.

Gerry and Bobby have been at the forefront of that.

We will continue to build alliances, positivity, equality and a better future for our young people. 

We will continue to build towards a new and united Ireland.

We were in Derry last week and had the privilege of standing with people from all walks of life in that city to demand an end to the violence.

We stood shoulder to shoulder because that is the best way – the only way – to confront this destructive agenda.

We do so again tonight and we will do so again in the future. 

Irish republicans are prepared to show leadership and to confront the critics and opponents of peace. 

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will meet on the 25th of this month.

I would urge both governments to seize the opportunity it offers to inject some momentum and progress back into the process by dealing with the issues of equality and rights which are at the heart of the impasse.

And whatever about the response of the two governments to that, I give you this assurance.

SF will not be deterred from doing what we do and what needs to be done.

Leanfaimid linn ag obair chun na hinstitiúdí a bhunú arís ar bhonn chearta, ar bhonn chomhionannais agus ar bhonn measa do gach duine. 

We will continue working for the restoration of the institutions on the basis of equality, rights and respect for all.

We will continue building reconciliation on this island and opposing sectarianism and discrimination at every turn.

We will go on building the new Ireland and we will make it a reality.

We will not be dissuaded by failures of leadership from the Governments. We will not be denied by self-serving pacts between the Tories and the DUP. 

And we will not be distracted by attacks on our homes.

We are republicans. Yes, we may face challenges and attacks, but ultimately our success will be the unity of the people of this island.

We will prevail, we will overcome, we will not be denied.

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Those behind attacks on the homes of Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey have no plan, strategy or vision for the future, Sinn Féin President Mary-Lou McDonald has said.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a rally in Belfast tonight, the Dublin Central TD said the demonstration would send solidarity “to Gerry Adams, Bobby Storey, their families and every family that has been subjected to intimidation and fear over the last number of days and weeks.”

Mary-Lou McDonald added: “Above all the rally will reiterate our commitment to the peace process and the fact that people in Belfast and beyond now want to move on and carve a new future for themselves and their families in a new Ireland.

“We are Irish republicans, we are about ending partition, we’re about building an Ireland that’s based on the values of equality, of freedom, of prosperity and of opportunity. Those values and that mission is shared by the communities that we represent.

“There is no appetite, no excuse and no purpose behind the violence that occurred. Attacks on republican leaders, attacks on neighbours and communities, wherever they happen, are attacks on society as a whole and society understands that.

“Michelle and I were in Derry on Friday, we spoke to the people in the Bogside - they made it very clear how angry they are at a very small element that has brought hardship and trouble and panic in some cases to elderly residents and I know here in Belfast there is widespread anger.

“There is zero tolerance for any element that would set out to cause harm or to cause disruption.

“Those intent on this disruption have no political plan, have no political strategy, have no vision for the future. People in Belfast and Derry and right across Ireland now are ambitious for ourselves and for our families and for a new Ireland.

“Nobody, no faction, no element is going to get in the way of those ambitions.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Brexit David Cullinane has said today that the British government needs to keep to its political promise to give legal effect to a backstop for the North, adding that such an arrangement is necessary for wider talks with the EU to progress.

Deputy Cullinane said:

"It has been increasingly clear for some months now that the British government sees an overall trade agreement as the best way to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

"However, the backstop was agreed in case no such overall agreement comes to pass.

"It is an insurance policy, one that cannot be taken off the table while negotiations are ongoing.

“The British Prime Minister Teresa May must hold firm on seeking to make progress on Brexit negotiations.

“Internal divisions within the Tory party cannot damage the progress that has been made so far.

“The interests of a minority of hard Brexiteers cannot hold Ireland and the EU more broadly to ransom.

“Brexit was a Tory solution to a Tory problem. 

"The 'backstop' or Irish protocol agreed last December is the bottom line for Ireland. The British government cannot negotiate downwards from that position.

“The Irish government need to make sure that we do not go into October with no resolution of the Irish issues – and if that needs a special EU summit in September to deal with the Irish issues then so be it.

"The Irish people need certainty, and it needs to be delivered now.”

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