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The Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has extended her deepest sympathies to the families of the young people lost at the incident in Tyrone last night.

Ms McDonald called on those with any information to help the PSNI in their investigation into what happened.

The Sinn Féin President said:

“I cannot fathom the horror that the parents of these children are going through this morning. What should have been a night of fun and celebration for young people has turned into a night of tragedy.

“I wish to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to all the families affected at this time of heartbreak, shock and loss.

“The PSNI have asked that any young people with footage of what happened do not post it on social media. I echo those calls and ask that any information or footage is given to police in order aid the investigation into this horrific tragedy.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said the DUP need to realise that the Withdrawal Agreement is the only way to avoid a disastrous crash-out Brexit. 

The South Down MP said: 

"The reckless pursuit of a fantasy Brexit by the DUP and their Tory allies is totally out of step with the public. 

"The DUP now need to take stock, reflect and listen to the genuine fears of the business community, the farming sector and many others who are worried about the dire consequences of a crash-out Brexit. 

"The DUP is engaging in party politicking in their negotiations with the Tories over Brexit. 

"They need to realise once and for all that there is only one deal on the table; the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop it contains. That is the only way to avoid a disastrous crash-out Brexit."

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Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has said the Irish government should immediately open a Passport Office in the north to meet the soar in Irish passport applications. 

Commenting on the latest figures released by the government, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:

“The government have confirmed that already there is a 30 percent increase in passport applications, that’s over 230,000 applications and it’s only March. 

“In 2018, record numbers of people in the north and in Britain applied for an Irish passport — that will only intensify in the coming weeks and months as Brexit uncertainty looms. 

“The Irish Embassy in London has warned its staff are 'stretched and working under pressure' due to passport demand.

“This exposes the gap in services, and undue stress on staff, through failure to open a passport office in the six counties. The government are unequipped to deal with rising figures. 

“An Taoiseach has said the people of the north will never be left behind again - then now is the time to invest and provide the infrastructure required to meet growing demand.

“Opening a Passport Office in the north is the practical and sensible thing to do.”

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson, Declan Kearney said today that Europe has a central role to play in developing the transition to Irish unity.

Declan Kearney was speaking at a European conference entitled 'For a New Left and Progressive Pillar: A Europe for the Many', today Saturday 16 March 2019. 

Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras is also addressing the conference along with a number of other senior representatives from the European Left.

Declan Kearney said:

“The imposition of Brexit by the British Tory government on the north of Ireland is inherently undemocratic in nature. 

“But it is also a direct by product of Ireland's undemocratic and continued partition, enforced by British colonial policy.

“Partition has been an abject failure. It was never designed to make the northern state a political or economic success.

"Brexit has created a defining moment for these islands.

“International attention has been refocused upon the democratic case for Irish unity.

“Britain's border in Ireland has now become an issue for Europe.

“The level of interest in, and support for constitutional change in Ireland is now at an all-time high across the EU.

“The European Parliament and EU institutions have become strategically important renas within which to promote the democratic aim of a united Ireland and to encourage international support for a unity referendum.

“Sinn Féin will continue lobbying and influencing to make the objective of rish reunification a priority for the progressive left and other strands of democratic opinion represented in the European Parliament.

“Brexit means that change in the political relations between Britain and Ireland is now unavoidable.

“While the partition of our country never had any democratic legitimacy, its continued imposition is no longer sustainable.

“Partition has run out of road.

“Almost 30 years ago the European landscape was changed with German reunification.

“The emerging prospect of Irish unity presents a strategic opportunity to positively transform and realign the politics of Europe.

“Irish unity is integral to the vision of a new Europe.

“Europe has a central role to play in developing the transition to Irish unity.”

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has said the Electoral Office ‘must do more’ to facilitate people who wish to get on the electoral register. 

The West Belfast MP was commenting after hundreds of people attended an understaffed registration clinic hosted by the Electoral Office in the Kennedy Centre on Friday night. 


Paul Maskey said:


“Hundreds of people turned up at the Kennedy Centre tonight hoping to get their name on the electoral register ahead of May’s local government election. 


“Unfortunately, the Electoral Office were unable to meet the demand as only two members of staff were made available resulting in hundreds of people leaving without getting registered. 


“The Electoral Office should have provided more resources, given that they were informed in advance that there would be high demand for the event. 


“We have asked that the Electoral Office facilitate more registration sessions in the area in the coming days to ensure everyone has an opportunity to access their democratic right to vote.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has welcomed calls from the European Committee of Ministers on the British government’s failures to deal with the legacy of the conflict. 

Linda Dillon said: 

“I welcome the comments from the European Committee of Ministers on the British government’s failures to deal with the legacy of the conflict. 

“In a week when the British government’s continuing policy of impunity has been exposed, this decision by the Committee of Minister clearly outlines Article 2 obligations on the British state to provide access to due process, truth and justice to families.

“It put on record its serious concern at the British government’s failure to implement the legacy mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House Agreement. 

“The Committee of Ministers called on the British government to produce a timeline of its next steps to implement what has already been agreed.

“The committee expressed serious regret about that investigations and litigation into the cases of McKerr, Shanaghan, Jordan, Kelly and others and McCaughey have still not been completed.

“It also gave the British government a deadline to respond to the latest judgement from the British Supreme Court in the case of Pat Finucane which found his murder had not been properly investigated to date. 

“The committee welcomed the release of funding for legacy inquests as proposed by the Lord Chief Justice but called on the British government to provide more information about the same and amount of funding. 

“There is an onus on the British government to address the legacy of the conflict as a matter of urgency by implementing what it has already agreed.” 

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Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has called on the DUP and Tory Brexiteers to step back from the cliff edge of a crash-out Brexit.

The South Down MP said:

“After yet another week of chaos in the British Parliament with ministerial resignations and bizarre and delusional votes, the north of Ireland is still facing the possibility of being dragged out of the EU and over an economic cliff edge in a no-deal Brexit.

“There is no such thing as a good Brexit but crashing out with no deal would have dire economic consequences for the north.

“It is now time for the DUP and the Tory Brexiteers to take a step back from the cliff edge, reconsider their position and listen to the genuine fears from all sectors of society in the north over the impact of a crash-out.

“The only way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is to see the only deal on the table - the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop it contains - receiving support next week.

“We are looking to the EU and Irish government to stand firm, stand by the backstop and ensure the interests of Ireland are protected from the reckless Brexiteers in the DUP and British Tories.”

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Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has extended her deepest sympathies to the people of New Zealand and the families of those lost in the horrific attack in Christchurch.

Teachta McDonald said:

“The world woke in horror to the news from Christchurch this morning.

“My first thoughts are with the people of New Zealand and the families as they mourn their dead and comfort each other.

“There is no place in this world for the hatred that lead to this horrific attack. Racism and xenophobia are a stain on society and must be tackled head on.” 

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The DUP leadership should clarify its position on the rights of Irish language speakers following the latest anti-Gaeilge insult from one of their party councillors, Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said.

The West Belfast MLA was commenting after DUP Councillor Clement Cuthbertson attacked the decision by Mid Ulster District Council to produce an Irish language information leaflet to coincide with Seachtain na Gaeilge. Cllr Cuthbertson branded the decision ludicrous as ‘no one in Mid Ulster speaks Irish as their first language’.

Pat Sheehan said: “Either through ignorance or arrogance, Cllr Cuthbertson has just dismissed the hundreds of young people in Mid-Ulster who are receiving their education with Irish as their first language.

“So not only is he wrong in his assertion, he is being insulting to the thousands of people who see the right to receive correspondence from their local authority in Irish as an important recognition of their national identity.

“When DUP representatives utter these kind of insults, people within nationalism are left asking themselves whether that party has learned anything from the disrespect and arrogance that contributed to the collapse of the Stormont institutions.

“The DUP leadership regularly claim they have no objection to the use of the Irish language so they now need to clarify how that sits with the latest insulting remark from one of their councillors.”

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Speaking today in support of students striking for climate change, Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Education and Skills Deputy Kathleen Funchion said the number of Irish students striking today in their thousands up and down the country should deliver a clear and powerful message to the Irish Government that Ireland's inaction on climate change won’t be tolerated by our younger generations.

Teachta Funchion said:

“Today’s direct action being taken by students all across our country should send a very clear signal to our Ministers in Government that younger generations have recognised the critical issues facing their generation and have decided to make their voices heard.

“As future voting citizens, they have every right to inform government about what direction they want to see policy moving. The global student strike which was called by the 16 year-old schoolgirl Greta Thunberg who began striking outside the Swedish Parliament last August has gathered incredible momentum internationally.

“Today, students from schools across Ireland are joining the global Schools Strike for Climate Action as well. Marches have been organised in Dublin and Cork there will be strike events outside local authority offices in counties from Tralee to Donegal, Meath to Galway, and locally at school gates across the country.

“Fridays for Future, School Strikes 4 Climate, as well as the Schools’ Climate Action Network are the three student-driven networks of young people in Ireland, whose schools support them in their decision to strike for climate action.

“On March 6th, a group of 40 students from around Ireland met in Dublin to discuss their demands with TDs and Senators at a briefing hosted by my colleague Senator Máire Devine at Dáil Éireann in advance of the strike.

“I applaud these students for taking such a stand and leading from the front.” 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Climate Action Brian Stanley TD said today that the lack of policies on climate change by successive governments is clear and the debate now cannot be just on the problems we face now but on the solutions we need.

The Laois TD said:

“We need a change in polices to address one of the major issues of our time. Climate change is having a devastating effect on our environment, both nationally and globally but decisions taken now will affect future generations for better or worse.

“Much of the debate centres on the problems with our climate but we need urgently to put forward the many different actions required to deal with climate change. We need to ask what will be our energy mix to replace fossil fuels? How do we change our sources of energy for travel? And how do we deal with the chronic level of waste in our society? These are key issues that need to be addressed and need to be led by Government policy.

“Sinn Féin has put forward proposals such as the Microgeneration Support Scheme Bill to develop small scale renewable energy, a paper on Biogas to help displace fossil fuels, a Bill to have a deposit return scheme for certain waste, and our ‘Powering Ireland 2030’ paper outlines a possible 80% renewable energy mix by 2030.

“There needs to be many different polices put in place to create the change we need to protect our environment and protect future generations. These policies will be across many different areas so that the green and cleaner alternatives are in place, and so this state will no longer be the laggard when it comes to climate change.” 

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe, has extended his sympathies and condolences to the families of those killed and injured in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Deputy Crowe said:

“I am horrified at the massacre of Muslims worshiping in two mosques in New Zealand and the rising death toll.

“My thoughts are with the families of those killed and injured. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha.

“I want to extend my sympathies and condolences to these families and to the people of New Zealand.

“This was reportedly a highly planned massacre carried out by extreme right wing militants. Fascism, Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, bigotry, and sectarianism corrode society and dehumanise people. They be tackled and confronted no matter where they appear in the world.” 

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill has expressed sympathy with the families of those killed and injured in the New Zealand terror attacks.

Michelle O'Neill said:

"The attack at two mosques in Christchurch, which have left scores of people dead and injured are horrific and to be condemned.

“I have watched with shock and horror as the scale of this terrible atrocity became known.

“I have been in contact with New Zealand’s Ambassador to Ireland Brad Burgess to convey our condolences and solidarity at this time.

“Today, at this tragic time our thoughts are with the families and communities of all those killed and injured, the emergency services and the people of Christchurch and New Zealand.”

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The European Parliament has passed a resolution once again calling on EU leaders to ramp up climate action. Spokesperson for climate change for GUE/NGL and Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan, in Strasbourg, said:

“Yesterday, I addressed the Parliament during the climate change debate calling out the groups that have been consistently weakening climate ambition at EU level. Today, I am glad that the progressive forces in the Parliament have been able to overcome the climate laggards and reassert that the European Parliament wants the EU to take much more radical action on climate.

“My amendment succeeded in this resolution, stressing the need to actively involve younger generations in the fight against climate change.  I felt this was an important addition to the resolution in light of the stunt last week from liberal and conservative parties to keep the voice of young people outside the Parliament.

“I am appalled but in no way surprised at how my Fine Gael counterparts voted on today's climate resolution. All four Fine Gael MEPs voted to remove the most progressive parts of this resolution, and to drag down its ambition. They voted against a 100% renewable-based energy strategy, against boosting the EU's 2030 climate target to 55%, and against asking the EU to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

“This week, Brexit chaos completely smothered the media pick up on the fact that we invited 60 young climate strikers in the European Parliament chamber to watch the climate debate, after Greta Thunberg was vetoed from addressing the Parliament by centre- and right-wing groups. The debate yesterday clearly showed where interests lie on climate change and how liberal and conservative political ideologies clearly cannot go hand in hand with the rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented climate action we need.

“Only a left approach to climate can deliver the essential merging of climate and social policy that we need to have the public buy in on dramatic climate action. However, today, we got one step closer to knocking over the status-quo establishment, who only want to talk about climate and take no action. Today the Parliament secured an endorsement for boosting climate ambition to 55% emissions reductions by 2030, a much needed facelift from the current 40%, which doesn't even match the science.” 

 Note: Please see a link to Lynn Boylan addressing the Parliament in yesterday's Climate Change debate here: https://www.lynnboylan.ie/about?wix-vod-video-id=-YjgbmtCpCo&wix-vod-comp-id=comp-jrc4949i# .

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy to host EU Forestry expert at Co. Leitrim meeting

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has announced details of a significant public meeting on the controversial issue of forestry that will take place in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim next Thursday, 21st of March.

The event entitled “Fighting the Land Grab!” will take place in the Bush Hotel at 7.30pm.

Among the guest speakers will be Kelsey Perlman of FERN, an EU-level organisation dedicated to protecting forests as well as the rights of communities living close to them.  Fern is the body responsible for a report published last month entitled “EU Forests in Danger” which highlighted management, biodiversity and community rights issues across 11 EU Member States and specifically highlighted the forest policy employed in County Leitrim as an example of worst practise.

Sligo-Leitrim TD Martin Kenny will also contribute to the event which will outline the flaws of Irish government forestry policy and present the alternatives that could and should be implemented.  

Speaking in advance of Thursday’s meeting Matt Carthy, who has been a long-standing critic of the government’s forestry policies, said:

“A proper forestry policy, as advocated by Sinn Féin and organisations such as FERN, should be beneficial to the environment, good for the local economy and positive for communities.  The forest strategy, if you could be generous enough to call it a strategy, pursued by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine governments does none of those things.

“Rather than helping the environment forests in Leitrim have become ecological dead zones.  Peatland and animal nesting grounds have been transformed into fast-growing Sitka plantations subjected to clear-felling.

“There is minimal benefit to the local economy.  Farmers are being priced out of available land by foreign corporations and vulture funds availing of government and EU grants, tax breaks and low-cost loans. It’s a land grab - Pure and simple!

“All the while it is the local community that suffers as they watch their county change beyond recognition.

“It doesn’t have to be this way.  FERN is an organisation that supports the development of forests but they cite Irish government policy in general and its outworking in Leitrim in particular as an example of worst practise. Kelsey Perlman will present an alternative approach, one that actually works and one that doesn’t over burden one county or region with the full obligations of the state.  I urge everyone with an interest in rural and regional development to come along and participate in the discussion.

Carthy concluded by saying “Thursday’s event is an opportunity to inform the public about policies at a national and European level and how they can be changed.  The policies pursued by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have caused damage that won’t be easily undone.  So, we have to start by putting an end to the current land grab and proceed to delivering a forestry strategy that works for the environment, for the local economy and for communities.  Sinn Féin are committed to implementing this vision.  Thursday’s meeting will be an important step in achieving it.”

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Speaking after the latest Brexit vote in Westminster this evening Sinn Féin spokesperson David Cullinane TD said the Westminster Parliament needs an injection of reality.

Teachta Cullinane said the lesson this week is that Europe and the Irish Government need to remain strong and focused.

Teachta Cullinane said;

“There is no good Brexit. That is why the people of the north rejected it.  And it is why we need the backstop.

“The DUP and Tories who are taking us to the edge of the cliff need to step back. They need to reassess and drop the reckless pursuit of a fantasy Brexit 

“After tonight's votes it is clear that Westminster is simply negotiating with itself.  The EU has made it clear that the Irish backstop is not up for renegotiation. It is the absolute minimum necessary to protect the Good Friday Agreement, citizens rights and avoiding a hard border. 

“That is the one and only deal on the table. It is the only way to avoid a disastrous crash-out Brexit. 

“There needs to be an injection of reality into the Westminster bubble. 

“Those who have taken us to the edge of the cliff need to step back, reassess and drop this reckless pursuit of a fantasy Brexit. 

“We need to see the EU and the Irish government standing firm, defending the interests of Ireland and ensuring the backstop is maintained.”

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Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has commended the strength and determination of the Bloody Sunday families and described their pursuit of justice as “an inspiration”.

Mary Lou McDonald said:

“It has been a long and painful journey for the families and the people of Derry. Our hearts are with them today.

“Their dogged pursuit of justice has been nothing short of an inspiration. The families and all those who campaigned for so long should hold their heads up high today.

“Today’s decision doesn’t change the fact that the events of Bloody Sunday were indeed a massacre of innocents.

“While we share the disappointment of the families we know that the fight for justice will continue.”

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Sinn Féin’s National Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA said today that his party had a “very positive and worthwhile” meeting today with the Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws on language rights issues. Mr Kearney and party colleague Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA led a party delegation to meet the Commissioner this morning in Belfast. Ms Huws is in Belfast to launch a new document compiled by Conradh na Gaeilge in relation to local government.

Mr Kearney said:

“I am delighted we had the opportunity to meet with Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws today, to discuss important language rights issues.

“Meri has plenty of experience in language development and in terms of defending language rights. It was our pleasure to have these conversations with her.

“It was a very valuable and positive meeting.

“We discussed the current strength of the Welsh Language and the significant achievements of the language community in Wales over recent decades. 

“We also discussed the current challenges facing the Welsh Language; and Meri shared her expertise regarding the statutory provisions for language in Wales.

“We also outlined our concerns about the continued denial of language rights in the north. We informed Meri of the negative impact of the DUP and British government’s ongoing refusal to deliver language rights and equality. 

“We reaffirmed to her Sinn Féin’s commitment to resolving these issues and to deliver an Irish Language Act in the north.”

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Sinn Féin Mayo Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has commended the fortitude and dignity of the Bloody Sunday families in their long campaign for justice for their murdered loved ones.

Conway-Walsh was speaking in the Seanad today after the decision of the Public Prosecution Service to bring charges against one British soldier in relation to the killing of 14 civilians in 1972.

Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Conway-Walsh said;

“We share the disappointment of the families that only one former soldier has been charged with two counts of murder and four attempted murders, given the clearly established facts about the actions of the British Army on Bloody Sunday.

"What happened in Derry on Bloody Sunday was wrong. The Saville Inquiry found that the killings were unjustified and unjustifiable.

"This was not disputed by the then British Government. Today’s decision does not change this fact. 

"Although there is understandable disappointment, the families can be proud of their achievements to date. It is due to their efforts that the whole world knows now that the events of Bloody Sunday constituted a massacre of the innocents.

"From Widgery right up to Saville, the families have faced the might of the British establishment and their efforts to keep hidden its crimes committed in Ireland.

"Today’s callous comments from the British Defence Secretary underscore the importance of implementing previously agreed mechanisms to deal with legacy.

"The families’ efforts have done so much to expose the truth, but no family should be made to wait 47 years for such a basic right.

"Today belongs to the families. I want them to know that Sinn Féin will continue to stand with them in whatever further actions they may choose to take."

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Tá ráite ag Cathaoirleach Náisiúnta Shinn Féin Declan Kearney CTR go raibh cruinniú “dearfach agus fiúntach” aige inniu le Coimisinéir na Breatnaise, Meri Huws. Bhí an Comhalta Kearney agus an Comhalta Máirtín Ó Muilleoir i gceannas ar thoscaireacht ón pháirtí a bhuail leis an Choimisinéir ar maidin i mBéal Feirste. Tá an Bhean Uasal Huws i mBéal Feirste chun cáipéis nua de chuid Chonradh na Gaeilge a sheoladh.

Dúirt an Comhalta Kearney:

“Tá áthas orm go raibh an deis seo againn bualadh le Meri Huws agus ceisteanna cearta teanga a phlé.

“Tá neart taithí ag Meri i gcúrsaí forbartha teanga agus maidir le cearta teanga a chosaint. Ba phléisiúir dúinn é bheith ina cuideachta.

“Bhí cruinniú dearfach agus fiúntach againn.

“Phléigh muid láidreacht na Breatnaise agus an dul chun cinn suntasach atá déanta ag an phobal teanga sa Bhreatain Bheag. Chíor muid, fosta, na dúshláin atá roimh an Bhreatnais agus roinn Meri a saineolas linn maidir le freagrachtaí reachtúla teanga sa Bhreatain Bheag.

“Dhírigh muid féin isteach ar an easnamh a leanann go fóill sa tuaisceart maidir le cearta teanga. Mhaígh muid an bac leanúnach atá á chur ag an DUP agus Rialtas na Breataine roimh chearta teanga agus roimh an chomhionannas. Sa chomhthéacs sin, dhearbhaigh muid arís tiomantas Shinn Féin d’Acht Gaeilge agus do reachtaíocht teanga a bhaint amach sna 6 chontae.”

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