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An Chéad Dáil

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


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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion challenged British Secretary of State Karen Bradley on reports the Tories were planning to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement. 

The Foyle MP said: 

"I spoke today with British secretary of state Karen Bradley to discuss recent events in Derry and Brexit. 

"I made it clear the united voice coming from this city condemning Saturday night's bomb attack and our opposition to the continuing activities of these tiny, unrepresentative groups, including today's security alert in Creggan. 

"During the course of the discussion I also expressed my concern at reports the British government was attempting to rewrite to Good Friday Agreement in an attempt to placate hard Brexiteers and the Good Friday Agreement. 

“The Good Friday Agreement is an internationally binding agreement and there can be no unilateral reworking of it. 

"In particular, I told her of the catastrophic impact Brexit would have on areas on the border like Derry. I reminded her that a deal has already been agreed between the British government and the EU and the backstop it contains must be maintained. 

"We also discussed a City Deal for Derry which I reminded her is vital to the economic regeneration of the north west as part of a wider strategic growth plan. 

"I will continue to engage with Karen Bradley and others to ensure the interests of Ireland are protected." 

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Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has condemned those behind security alerts in the Circular Road and Southway areas of Derry. 

Cllr. Kevin Campbell said:

"Ongoing security alerts in Circular Road and Southway have caused significant disruption to local residents this afternoon with many homes being evacuated and the streets closed. 

"Those responsible for this disruption have shown complete disregard for the people of Creggan, particularly elderly people who live in this area.  

"There can be no justification for this type of reckless activity."

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Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said the haulage sector in the north is facing disaster in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

The South Down MP said: 

"Those involved in the haulage industry in the north have been raising concerns about the impact of Brexit for some time now, particularly around the dangers a no-deal Brexit and the imposition of any physical infrastructure on the border would have. 

"Now the industry is facing the issue of requiring permits to operate in the EU post Brexit in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

"But there has been only a limited number of permits released, not nearly enough to handle the number of drivers and lorries in the north. 

"Permits also raise questions about enforcement and in the event of a no-deal Brexit we could be faced with long and costly delays at the border, which would involve crippling costs to the haulage sector. 

"This could put the livelihoods of many in the haulage industry in jeopardy with a no-deal Brexit. 

"But the reality is there is no such thing as a good Brexit for the sector or for the north generally. We need the EU 27 and the Irish government to stand firm to ensure the protection of our economy, our agreements and avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has said the workplace must be a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. 

The party’s Equality spokesperson was commenting after four companies from the north were included in the ‘Stonewall Workplace Equality Index’ of LGBT-inclusive employers.

Megan Fearon said:

“The Stonewall Index highlights that attitudes in society are changing, but more must be done to ensure the workplace is a safe and inclusive environment for all.

“The large number of businesses and organisations represented at last year’s Belfast Pride demonstrates the determination of employers to promoting inclusivity within their company.

“A majority of people in the north – including business and organisations – are opposed to the DUP’s denial of rights to our LGBT community. 

“It’s important that we continue to promote equality and acceptance to ensure our lesbian, gay, bi and trans citizens feel truly welcome in their place of work.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin TD has stated the introduction of a charging regime for so-called excessive water use is “expensive and unnecessary”. The resumption of a charge is the thin end of wedge as far as domestic water charges are concerned.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“When charging for so-called ‘excessive use’ emerged as a result of backroom deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as an effort to kill the issue of water charges in 2017, Sinn Féin opposed such a charge.

“We believe it is the thin end of the wedge for the introduction of universal metered domestic water charges in future by this government or another one.

“The introduction of such a charge also gives the impression that Irish people are wilfully wasting water when the truth is that, according to Irish Water’s own figures, household water consumption in this state is one of the lowest in the OECD. 

“For example, in this State, we use an average of 123 litres per person per day, compared to England where people use on average 140 litres, in Sweden it is 200 litres, and in Italy it is 250 litres.

“The government hopes to raise €39m over five years via this charge. It will cost Irish Water more to collect this charge than the charge will raise, which makes no sense.

“If the government is really concerned about wasting water, it needs to look at the water flowing out of leaks in the public system, where up to 47% of water is lost.

“It should also focus on helping families who discover a leak to fix it as opposed to punishing them.

“I cautiously welcome media reports in the Examiner this morning that the first fix scheme is set to be ‘substantially enhanced’.

“This is where the government’s focus should be; not wasting more public money collecting an unnecessary charge.” 

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Speaking the evening Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has called the government row back on having the Comptroller and Auditor General investigate the costs and overspend at the new national children’s hospital “curious” and “worrying”.

Teach O’Reilly said:

“Sinn Féin has been very explicit in our call for a full and public investigation into the overspend at the national children’s hospital.

“We were hopeful that such an investigation by the C&AG would be forthcoming when Government Chief Whip, Seán Kyne TD, stated as much on the RTÉ The Week in Politics programme today.

“However, in a curious and worrying development the Government have rowed back from this commitment.

“This is, quite frankly, ridiculous; Deputy Kyne did not just think this up on the spot and such an investigation must have been debated at the highest levels of Government.

“It is very disturbing that the Government appear to not want an independent investigation into the overspend so we can find out how such colossal losses were incurred and if any corruption has taken place.

“I am reiterating Sinn Féin’s call for a full and public investigation into the goings on with the construction of the national children’s hospital immediately.

“There are people in Government and people working on projects for the State who hold the disgraceful belief that wasting public money is a victimless crime. It most certainly is not and there should be the most full and through investigation to uncover the reasons for such a waste of public finances and if any corruption has taken place.”

ENDS

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The Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has welcomed reports which indicate that the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General will review the spiralling costs of the National Children’s Hospital.

McDonald called on the government to confirm that this probe will go ahead and to indicate a timeframe for it.

Deputy McDonald said:

“My colleague Pearse Doherty this week called for a full and public investigation into the overspend on the National Children’s Hospital.

“I am pleased therefore at reports which suggest that the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General is to conduct a review in this regard. This needs to be confirmed by government.

“The projected overspend represents a catastrophic failure of this government and those overseeing the project. The explanations given to the health committee were bordering on farcical and take no cognisance of the impact that this will have on the overall health budget.

“We need this hospital and we need it to be built as soon as possible. We also need accountability and oversight in the spending of public money. Transparency is key and questions must be asked in respect of the Minister and his relationship with the board – when did he find out about the overspend, why was it not anticipated and why has it been allowed to continue? 

“The Minister has adopted his trademark hands off approach and any investigation must focus on the role of the Ministers for Health and Finance.

“The proposed review must be short and sharply focused - we need to know how this catastrophic overspend was allowed by government to go unchecked.”

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Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has criticised RTÉ’s flagship weekend talkshow ‘The Late Late Show’ for yet another excluding viewers in the Six Counties yet again on the famous programme.

Speaking in Belfast this weekend Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:

“The Late Late Show and RTÉ both came under widespread and fully warranted criticism when they displayed a, so-called, map of Ireland that had amputated the Six Counties. 

“One would have thought they’d have learnt their lesson however Friday night’s episode saw viewers in the North again snubbed when they were excluded from taking part in the show’s weekly phone-in competition. 

“The Late Late Show is an Irish institution, it is the longest running talk show in TV history, people in Derry and Belfast have grown up watching the show in the same way as people in Galway, Kerry and Dublin have. It is an established part of our collective Irish lives. 

“RTÉ’s corporate charter compels them to reflect and engage audiences across the entirety of Ireland but yet another exclusion of a large swathe of Ireland and indeed an RTÉ audience defies that.

“I will be contacting RTÉ and ‘The Late Late Show’ to convey the frustration and disappointment of those who have been in touch with me and to encourage them to stop insulting this substantial section of their audience.”

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has condemned a bomb attack at the courthouse in Derry.

The Foyle MP said:

“This incident has shocked the local community.

“In particular, there are many elderly residents who live in the area who have been alarmed by this incident.

“Thankfully no one appears to have been injured in this incident.

“Derry is a city moving forward and no one wants this type of incident. It is not representative of the city.

“I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it to the police.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today addressed a crowd marking the centenary of the Soloheadbeg ambush in Tipperary. 

Below is the full text of Deputy McDonald's speech.

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

A chairde,

Cuireann sé an-áthas orm mar Uachtarán Shinn Féin a bheith libh inniú agus muid ag comóradh na heachtraí stairiúla a tharla anseo ag Sulchóid Bheag i Contae Thiobrad Árainn céad bliain ó shin Dé Luain seo chugainn.

Cuimhnímíd orthu siúd uile a sheas an fód ar son na saoirse sa tréimhse sin. Táimíd bródúil astu, fir agus mná a bhí sa bhearna bhaoil agus an tír seo á ionsaí ag Rialtas na Breataine. Ar son na Poblachta daonlathach a bhí siad ag troid agus is cuí an rud go bhfuil cuimhne fós orthu.

I stand here as a proud Irish Republican with Tipperary roots and as President of Sinn Féin to remember the historic event that took place here in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary, one hundred years ago.

The action here at Soloheadbeg is regarded as the first significant attack by the Irish Republican Army on British crown forces in that period. 

These were ordinary men living in extraordinary times. The nine Volunteers involved had been lying in wait here for five days, expecting an RIC detachment to arrive with a consignment of explosives.

Waiting in the cold and wet for the time to act. Each evening they returned to the home of Dan Breen. At huge risk, Dan’s mother Hanora - a widowed mother - opened up her home to her rebel son and comrades. At four each morning they set out to take up their positions.

Each day before they left, Hanora Breen got up and made a breakfast. I love the way Dan Breen tells it in his book ‘My Fight for Irish Freedom’. On the fifth morning Dan’s mother said:

“If you don’t do something today, you can get your own breakfast tomorrow.” Soloheadbeg occurred on the very day that First Dáil Éireann met to hold its inaugural meeting in Dublin’s Mansion House.

The majority of the people of this island had spoken at the ballot box. They voted for Sinn Féin and they voted for equality, for liberty and to break the link with Britain. It was no surprise that there were young men, and women too, prepared to make that democratic vote effective by armed force if necessary.

The events of that day cannot be properly understood outside the context of the time and the background.

Armed actions had begun before Soloheadbeg and before the 1916 Rising. It was not Irish Republicans who brought the gun into Irish politics in that period. This country had been garrisoned for centuries by British crown forces. 

The British Conservative and Unionist Party had helped to fund, to train, to lead and to arm the Ulster Volunteer Force. And they were duly deployed, with the co-operation of senior British Army officers, to threaten war if Home Rule was implemented.

The message was clear in 1914 when the UVF landed thousands of arms at Larne, which was facilitated by crown forces while the Irish Volunteers landing of a tiny fraction of that number of arms at Howth was followed by the killing of three Dublin civilians by the British Army.

Republicans were not the advocates of a blood sacrifice, that fell to John Redmond when he induced tens of thousands of Irishmen to their deaths in the trenches of an Imperialist War. With war came the repressive Defence of the Realm Act, rendering peaceful political opposition to British rule and to British Army recruiting as seditious and empowering the British authorities to suppress and censor and imprison at will.

This was the background to the 1916 Rising and - of course - in its aftermath repression greatly increased with executions, mass imprisonment and deportation. The years 1917 and 1918 saw military rule throughout Ireland.

People were jailed for public speaking, for flying the Tricolour, for singing nationalist songs. Meetings, dances and GAA games were suppressed, people were attacked with bayonets and bullets. And the British government greatly escalated the situation when it prepared to enforce Conscription in April 1918. 

This was despite – or indeed in response to - the verdict of the people in by- elections in which elected Republican MPs were elected. The British government refused to listen to the democratic will of the Irish people.

The leaders of Sinn Féin, including many newly elected MPs, remained in prison. The people had entered a new era politically but the old British military regime remained the same. 

It was little wonder then that those like Dan Breen and Seán Treacy concluded, in Breen’s words, that they “had had enough of being pushed around and getting our men imprisoned while we remained inactive”.

They determined to seize arms from the RIC. The actions of the IRA at Soloheadbeg did not start a war with the British and armed actions remained isolated events. Republicans prioritised a peaceful path.

The Dáil had met, it had sent its delegates to the Peace Conference in Paris, it had appealed to public opinion in Britain, in the USA and worldwide. Door after door was slammed shut to Ireland by the British government, including at the Peace Conference, and this culminated in the outright banning of Dáil Éireann in late 1919.

It was after those peaceful roads were closed that the conflict intensified.

Contrary to the so-called revisionists it was the actions of the British government which made armed conflict inevitable. Martin McGuiness once said that, “he did not go to war but war came to him”. The people of County Tipperary and the people of Ireland did not go to war, the British government brought war to them.

War is not something to be glorified. It is not the first, second or third option for anyone. It is the last option of last resort. When that arises there are always those willing to step into the “bhearna bhaoil”.

To act selflessly and to risk life and liberty. We remember with pride those who refused to lie down, those who were ready to resist and those who stood up to the British Empire. It is right and fitting to honour those who risked all at Soloheadbeg.

To remember Seán Treacy, Dan Breen, Seamus Robinson, Seán Hogan, Tim Crowe, Patrick O’Dwyer, Michael Ryan, Patrick McCormack and Jack O’Meara. Across Ireland, men and women such as these fought for freedom. They had the support of the people without whom they could not have operated.

It was a people’s struggle for freedom. War is not something to be celebrated as it comes at a price and that is why we must remember the loss of the life of RIC members Patrick MacDonnell and James O’Connell.

As Republicans we know the cost of conflict and that is why we now have a peaceful and democratic pathway to Irish Unity and to an Irish Republic.

No other generation should face the choices that Seán Tracey and Dan Breen faced and no other generation should pay the cost that the MacDonnell and O’Connell families paid. There are some in powerful positions today who would like others to forget these events.

We watch on as they contort themselves to remove the name of Sinn Féin and the IRA from history. 

They wish us to forget that the degree of independence won for the 26 Counties was only won because the British government was forced to the negotiating table in 1921.

For the most part of the past one hundred years, this state has been governed by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Geal. They now rule together in government and opposition.

The bravery of the volunteers at Soloheadbeg is in stark contrast to decades of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael government. One hundred years on and these parties have failed to deliver the hard fought for republic.

They want to the people to believe that their way is the only way. They fear that people look back and see another way is possible.

They fear a risen people. They fear a woken generation, who see through their revisionism, hypocrisy and denial of rights. Who look on in disbelief at a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, parties that believe that homelessness is acceptable, poverty is inevitable and partition permanent.

They tell us, one hundred years after Soloheadbeg that now is not the time to talk of Irish Unity. Let me say loud and clear. Now is the time and this is the place. We will have unity, we will have equality and we will have our sovereignty.

We will have a Republic to honour all our patriots. It will be a Republic of equal citizens and a home to all. A Republic that is not sullied by homelessness and health care waiting lists. A Republic where workers are respected and rewarded for a fair day’s work. 

It will take patience and generosity. It will take courage and determination. It will take all of us to work together for the greater good. We will prevail, we must prevail. A new and united Ireland is the most fitting tribute to those who came before us.

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Speaking at a major health Rally in Waterford City today Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said enhanced cardiac care is a big priority for people in the South East. Deputy Cullinane was joined at the Rally by Sinn Féin councillors from across the region. 

Speaking from the Rally Teachta Cullinane said:

“Again today thousands of people from across the South East came out to demand a second permanent Cath Lab at University Hospital Waterford and 24/7 emergency cardiac care. 

“Progress has been made in recent times. Through the collective efforts of campaign groups, local and regional politicians and people power the Government moved and have provided the funding for a second Cath Lab.

“This must be put in place as quickly as possible. Both Labs need to be capable of performing diagnostic and intervention work. 

“However the priority is to deliver 24/7 emergency PPCI. The South East has a population of 500,000 people. University Hospital Waterford needs to provide all modalities of cardiac care on a 24/7 basis. The people will continue to campaign until this is achieved

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan has reiterated the party’s support for a public inquiry into care at Muckamore Abbey Hospital. 

Speaking in response to comments from the Chair of the Bamford Review into the north's mental health services, Professor Roy McClelland, Mr Sheehan said, "Professor McClelland's comments add further weight to the calls for a public inquiry into the Muckamore Abbey crisis.

"A public inquiry is needed if we are going to get to the true cause of what happened in Muckamore.

"We have consistently been raising a number of concerns with regard to Muckamore such as staffing levels and support, management and governance, and complaints procedures.

"While the initial SAI report commissioned by the Trust makes reference to these issues it by no means explains how and why the care of vulnerable adults was allowed to deteriorate in Muckamore.

"Without a clear understanding of what happened and why it happened we cannot be confident it will not happen again.

"Unfortunately we know from cases such as Dunmurry Manor Care Home that these problems are not unique to Muckamore.

"This points to more systemic issues impacting care beyond that of Muckamore which needs to be addressed.

"I have requested a meeting with the Belfast Trust to raise ongoing concerns with current staffing and management at Muckamore to ensure those vulnerable adults currently resident in Muckamore receive the care they need and are entitled to."

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Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has said that passing a referendum on the extension of Presidential Voting Rights will ensure citizens in the north aren’t left behind by the Irish government. 

Speaking in Belfast today, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:

“The upcoming referendum on extending votes in presidential elections will be a positive opportunity to affirm the government’s commitment to never again to leave citizens in the north behind. 

“It can also provide Ireland and our global diaspora with a tangible and positive link to each other.

“As we prepare to mark the anniversary of An Chéad Dáil, the upcoming poll announced by the government can afford Ireland the opportunity of having yet another truly national election, ensuring that all of our people have an equal say in what is an important office and expression of Irish life. 

“In 2019 it is crucially important that Irish political, community, civic and cultural organisations here and overseas are engaged and prepared for this momentous vote. 

“There is an onus now on the government to ensure they facilitate the required gathering to ensure this crucial and timely referenda will be won in the most collaborative and positive way possible.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD and former west Belfast MP Gerry Adams has praised the “fearless and tireless campaigning for human rights of Emma Groves and Clara Reilly”. 

Gerry Adams TD was speaking at an event this lunchtime to rename the corner of the old Andersonstown Barracks site ‘Coirnéal Groves Reilly – Groves Reilly Corner’. For more than 30 years the United Campaign against Plastic Bullets – which they founded in 1984 - has held a white line picket here each August against the use of that lethal weapon.

Describing the two west Belfast women as ‘Sisters in Struggle’ Teachta Adams said:

“This is a unique and entirely appropriate celebration of the work of two remarkable and exceptional women – Clara Reilly and Emma Groves - sisters in struggle.

“Through the worst years of conflict Clara and Emma stood strong against unimaginable state violence and repression. Two west Belfast women – mothers and grandmothers - who gave hope and leadership in dangerous times and at great personal risk.

“Two women who separately and together rose to the extraordinary challenge of defending the rights of citizens against the violence of the Unionist and British states.

“Together they made a formidable and inseparable team. Clara was Emma’s eyes on the world.

“Together their dignity and integrity, compassion and humanity was and remains inspirational.

“In all the years that I knew and respected Emma and have appreciated and known Clara, they were never bowed and never broken by all the British system could throw at them. They never once turned their back on anyone who needed help. 

“They lived their lives dedicated to truth and justice and human rights.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis has said the community of Warrenpoint have been left shocked at news that a man has been murdered in a shooting in the area tonight.

The South Down MLA said:

"The community of Warrenpoint are shocked and stunned by this news.

“Our first thoughts are with the family of the victim.

“The PSNI have the area sealed off and I would appeal to anyone with information to bring it forward to assist the investigation." 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson and more than 40 other MEPs have written to the President of the European Parliament and the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs highlighting the case of Kurdish MP Leyla Guven who is currently on hunger strike in a Turkish prison. 

Martina Anderson said: 

"I have now written to the President of the European Parliament, Antonia Tajini, and the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, to make them aware of the case of Kurdish MP Leyla Guven who has been on hunger strike since November 8. I have also raised the plight of Kurdish political leader Abdullah Ocalan who has been imprisoned since 1999. 

"Leyla Guven's health is now in a critical condition and Abdullah Ocalan is still being held in isolation on a prison island. 

“More than 170 Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish prisons are also on hunger strike demanding the release of both Leyla Guven and Abdullah Ocalan. 

"42 MEPs from across Europe and from a range of political groups across the European Parliament have now co-signed my letter, illustrating the depth of solidarity from across the political spectrum. 

"The international community and the EU in particular have a duty to bring all the pressure they can bear on the Turkish authorities to demand the release of Leyla Guven, Abdullah Ocalan and all Kurdish political prisoners." 

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed the launch of the 'Coming Home - Art and the Great Hunger' exhibition at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin. 

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, the Foyle MP said: 

"It is particularly fitting that this exhibition is here in Derry – a major point of emigration where so many people left, forced to flee hunger and their homes to make perilous journeys across the world. 

"The Great Hunger, An Gorta Mór, shaped our country's history and psyche like no other event. 

"But of course, The Great Hunger is not just something from history books. Unfortunately, around the world, millions of people are dealing with their own Great Hungers. 

"Famine is still used as a weapon of war and a tool of oppression. And just as in Ireland in the 1840s, it is the most vulnerable and those most in need who are suffering. 

"In East Africa, South Sudan and Yemen millions are suffering as a result of famine. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia many more are also dying as a result of food and water shortages. 

"And just as so many people left these shores fleeing hunger, today across the world people are being forced to flee hunger, genocide and persecution, risking death and exploitation. 

"Urgent international action is needed to address the unacceptable crisis of the Great Hungers around the world today. 

“The cause is the same, profit, imperialism, capitalism and uncaring governments. But the outcome doesn't have to be the same. We can and must do something about it.”

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said today he will be raising difficulties faced by residents and local businesses as a result of the Belfast Rapid Transport Scheme with the Department of Infrastructure.

Paul Maskey said: 

“Belfast Rapid Transport was designed to assist people to travel across the city and to attract greater footfall to local businesses. 

“In environmental and public health terms it is already proving successful. It has however caused some difficulties for businesses and residents along the immediate route of the new bus lanes.

“I have met with the Department for Infrastructure on a number of occasions to discuss these issues and to try to find a practical way to address them including the provision of additional lay-byes along the route to allow vehicle users additional space to park. 

“The department have said they will review all aspects of BRT after 12 months but I am proposing that some of the more obvious measures could be taken now.

“Sinn Féin held a packed public meeting before Christmas in the mid-Falls area to speak with residents about a residents’ parking scheme to alleviate their issues. 

“The Department is currently devising proposals for this and we will be working to have this implemented as soon as possible. 

“I have another meeting organised in the next two weeks with the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Infrastructure and I will be raising these issues with her.

“Other items on the agenda will be road infrastructure in west Belfast, taxi use of bus lanes in Belfast and a new cycle path for the west.”

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Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has criticised the government over their unpreparedness for a no deal Brexit.

Deputy Crowe said;

“The government’s no deal Brexit plan can be summed up in one sentence approach: leave it to the EU and let the markets decide. This is the same logic it used with the bank crisis and subsequent austerity – a logic that had disastrous consequences for the people of Ireland, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

“This government would appear to be walking away from its duties and is failing to address the most fundamental issue facing the Irish people outside of climate change.

“We need a plan that is directed at the issues facing the island of Ireland, not just those facing the EU.

“In terms of the legislation needed to address a no-deal Brexit, the government has simply listed off topics, not actual bills. Clearly the bills have not yet been written and little preparation has been done. If the bills were written surely we would see them.  

“The lack of preparation and planning means that bills cannot be scrutinised properly at committee and improved upon via input from Members of the Oireachtas and other relevant stakeholders. Any legislation produced between now and the end of January will be rushed and, as a consequence, possibly severely flawed.

“The government is increasingly lacking credibility because of the lack of details in its plans and its continued assertion that a hard no deal Brexit is unlikely. It has not said or done anything to ease the very real fears that many of our SMEs have.

"They need to hear practical solutions and see plans and proposals to deal with the challenges they will likely face.

“We also need to see an easing of EU state aid rules to allow the Government to directly intervene to support exporters through employment subsidy schemes along with grants for plant renewal, expansion, equipment and the introduction of enabling technology and crucial infrastructure.

“None of this is being done, or appears to be planned, by the government. Instead we are being asked to accept and trust that everything will be worked out and alright on the day.”

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Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy will host an event in Westminster next week calling for the release of Kurdish political leader, Abdullah Ocalan. 

The Mid Ulster MP said: 

"Kurdish political leader Abdullah Ocalan has been imprisoned since 1999 and has been held in almost total isolation for the last number of years. 

"In November, Kurdish MP Leyla Guven went on hunger strike calling for an end to the isolation of Abdullah Ocalan and his immediate release. She is now in a critical condition. 

"Hundreds of other Kurdish prisoners have also joined the hunger strike. They should all be released immediately. 

"On Tuesday, I will be hosting a discussion on law and human rights and the case of Abdullah Ocalan at Westminster which will bring together Kurdish activists and lawyers as well as human rights and legal experts from the University of London and the University of Cambridge.

"Appropriately, it will be held in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, Westminster, given her ignominious role in the 1981 Hunger Strike. The event runs from 6.30pm and I would encourage anyone interested in upholding human rights and assisting the Kurdish peace process to come along." 

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