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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned outright an attack on a synagogue in north Belfast. 

 Speaking after windows at the synagogue on Somerton Road were smashed at the weekend, the North Belfast MLA said; 

 "I condemn outright this attack on the synagogue on Somerton Road. 

 "There can be no place for attacks on any place of worship, regardless of the religion or denomination. 

 “The local Jewish community makes a valuable contribution to our society and there is no justification for hate crimes.

"If anyone has any information on these attacks then they should contact the PSNI." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady has said a proposal to extend pub opening hours should be considered as part of a wider rethink of licensing laws.

Speaking after Social Development minister Nelson McCausland said he was prepared to extend opening hours as part of a reform of licensing laws, the Newry / Armagh MLA said; 

"The hospitality industry is a key part of our economy, particularly in areas popular with tourists. 

"Sinn Féin has consistently called for a review of licensing laws to bring them into the 21st Century. 

"This limited extension of opening hours proposed by the social development minister is welcome but it must form part of a wider rethink of licensing laws. 

"While the economic benefits of extended opening hours to the hospitality and tourism sectors is obvious and need listened to, any changes must be considered as part of a holistic approach. 

"The possible health implications of extended opening hours and the views of residents living close to licensed premises must also be taken into account." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has called on health minister Edwin Poots to explore all possible funding avenues to tackle health inequalities in rural communities. 

The East Antrim MLA said; 

"Poverty and isolation are real problems for people living in rural communities. 

"Difficulties in accessing services and transport problems have created very worrying health inequalities in rural areas. 

"Recently my party colleague, agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill, made £80 million available for rural development projects and this is to be welcomed. 

"But more must be done to assist rural communities and I am calling on health minister Edwin Poots to put a specific focus on combating health inequalities in rural communities. 

"Mr Poots recently said he was willing to identify new funding sources for the 'Making Life Better 2013-23'. That should include European and all-Ireland funding streams. It should also involve partnership applications with community groups and sporting organisations. 

"I have written to a wide range of community organisations active in rural areas to make them aware of the additional money allocated by Michelle O'Neill for the Rural Development Programme. 

"I would call on Edwin Poots to engage with these groups in a similar way to make the most of all funding opportunities in order to improve the quality of life for people in rural communities."

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Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said today that funding can be found for the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

Speaking after meeting with victims and survivors of institutional abuse at Stormont today, the West Belfast MLA said; 

“Despite claims to the contrary by the DUP’s Sammy Wilson funding can be made available immediately for the historical abuse inquiry.

“As a former finance minister Sammy Wilson is well aware that money has been released in the past outside the agreed Programme for Government or routine monitoring rounds to provide funding for flood relief and in the aftermath of the winter snow crisis. 

“Sinn Féin is supporting the victims’ call for the funding needed by the HIAI to continue its investigation into the abuse of children in homes to be ringfenced.”

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said lessons from the peace process here could help end conflict in Colombia. 

Speaking during a visit to Colombia as part of an international delegation of politicians, trade unionists, journalists and lawyers to support the Colombian peace process, the Newry and Armagh MP said; 

"The visit, organised by the Justice for Colombia group, will see us meeting with trade unionists, human rights activists, victims of the conflict, prisoners and representatives of the government. 

"As well as visiting Bogota, we will travel to rural and coastal areas to hear testimony from peasant activists and fishing communities on ongoing human rights abuses. 

"On arrival we were greeted by Dr Carlos Lozano, spokesperson for the Patriot March movement and editor of Voz newspaper. He has to have armed bodyguards everywhere he goes as his predecessor was murdered by state forces. 

"We also met with human rights lawyers who briefed us on the ongoing murder of trade union activists. Almost 3,000 have been killed since 1986, 28 in the last year. 

"They also told us of plans by President Santos to allow military courts to deal with all accusations of violence and abuse by state forces and to counter what he claims is a 'legal war' by human rights lawyers on behalf of victims. 

"This is despite the fact that the state has enjoyed a 98.5% impunity for all killings." 

Mr Murphy also said lessons learned in Ireland could also be used in Colombia. 

"In an interesting parallel with Ireland, the lawyers talked about attempts by the Colombian government to downplay its role in the conflict and the creation of a hierarchy of victims ahead of any agreement around a proposed truth commission. 

"One note of optimism was our meeting with a young woman, Yessika Hoyos, a human rights lawyer who established the group, Hijos y Hijas (Sons and Daughters) which brings together children of murdered trade unionists and other civic society leaders. 

"This is clear evidence that the struggle for peace and justice remains strong in Colombia.

"After our engagements in Colombia some of the delegation will travel to Havana to meet with FARC negotiators who are currently in peace talks with the Colombian government." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill has called for an immediate end to the Israeli army’s assault on Gaza. 

Speaking at a solidarity rally held by Sinn Féin for the people of Gaza held at Stormont today, the Mid Ulster MLA said; 

"We gathered at Stormont and at many other locations across Ireland to show support for the people of Gaza and express our deep concern at the actions of Israel. 

"Sinn Féin is sending a clear message that the oppression of the Palestinian people must end. 

"To date, more than 500 people have been killed, the vast majority Palestinian civilians, many of them children. 

"Some of the imagery we have seen coming out of Gaza has been nothing short of heartbreaking. 

"There is an onus on occupying armies to ensure that civilians are not being targeted in operations but that’s exactly what the Israeli army is doing in Gaza. Hospitals and homes have all been targeted and children killed while out playing.

"This cannot be allowed to continue. All armed actions must stop to ensure there are no more victims. 

"We know from experience that the only way forward is through inclusive and meaningful dialogue.

"That dialogue has to include the representatives of the Palestinian people. 

"The international community must do all in its power to show that this violence will not be tolerated."

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Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada has requested a meeting with the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to outline her concerns with the draft submission put forward by his department on the LEADER programme to the EU Commission.

Ní Riada said:

“I am very concerned that the new measures outlined in the submission mark a determined attempt to redefine the LEADER programme from being a genuine grassroots, community-based `bottom up’ measure, to a programme completely subject to the political objectives of whatever Local Authority and Government happens to be in power at any given time.

“There are a few measures that highlight the flaws within the submission. These include plans that LEADER Groups will operate under the County Development Plans which have been responsible for many of the disastrous housing decision of the last 15 years.

“Also, LEADER Groups will have to adhere to new Local Economic and Community Plans which are not even developed yet.

“I am extremely concerned about the financial capacity measures proposed. I believe this is a `double whammy’ for local LEADERGroups. Some of them will find it difficult to get that type of backing, while faciliating private companies, state, and semi-state bodies.

“In conclusion, I am asking the Minister to withdraw the draft submission, and to enter serious and genuine discussions as a matter of urgency with the Network of Leader Groups. Furthermore, I am requesting a meeting with the Minister to discuss in further detail these concerns.

“Minister Kelly now needs to take a new approach and row back on the decisions of the previous Minister Hogan and to clean up the mess he has created."

Ní Riada is also seeking a meeting with the Commission in September to discuss the new alarming criteria for LEADER as set out by the previous Minister.

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Sinn Féin Energy Spokesperson Phil Flanagan has called on Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to subject Tamboran’s proposed drilling of a borehole near Belcoo to the full planning process.

Speaking after Tomboran announced its intention to drill a 750 metre borehole, the Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA said; 

"The licence awarded to Tamboran was handed out by DETI without any kind of public discussion or debate. 

"This proposal must be subject to a statutory planning application to allow local people and experts to have their say on the proposal.

"I am calling on the Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to ensure that this proposal be subject to the full planning process, including a statutory environmental impact assessment.

"That has always been the case with such applications to date and there must be no easing of the regulatory burden in this instance.

"It is not good enough for Tamboran to say that this application itself is not for fracking. We need to know what the long term impacts of this borehole will be for the health of local people and on the local environment. 

"As the minister with responsibility for planning, Mark H Durkan must actively involve himself and his department in this."

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has said comments today by former British intelligence officer Colin Wallace shows any inquiry into abuse at Kincora Boys Home must be international and fully independent.

 Michelle Gildernew said:

 “Colin Wallace said today that senior British intelligence officers covered up the abuse of children at the home as early as 1973. That was a full eight years before three senior staff members were convicted of abusing 11 boys at Kincora.

 “Wallace has also stated that British intelligence officers were told not to investigate the abuse and that evidence from British intelligence was withheld from two inquiries into Kincora.

 “The British state is clearly unwilling and incapable of investigating its own agents and intelligence services.

 “The British government has spent decades trying to cover up the activities of its intelligence services in Ireland.

 “Any inquiry into the abuse of children at the Kincora Boys Home during the 1970s needs to be international, independent and have the powers to subpoena witnesses and access documents.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

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Demand for Israeli ambassador to Ireland to be expelled reiterated


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Lynn Boylan MEP