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Opinion piece by Martin McGuinness on current political situation in the Assembly

This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has commended the strides made yesterday for equality, but has highlighted the many other aspects of...




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Commenting today on the vote by the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee in favour of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has said that the Committee has turned a blind eye to the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Europe and the deal struck in relation to the Investor State Dispute Settlement is nothing but a whitewash.

Carthy said:

“The Committee’s acceptance of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which allows for private investors to sue the Governments of member states, is against the wishes of the people of Europe.

“The people have made their position on ISDS very clear – they do not want it included in TTIP. The fact that 97% of the respondents to the largest ever online consultation held by the European Commission were opposed to ISDS and a petition set up to oppose it has received two million signatures in a matter of weeks.

“Similarly the Dutch and French parliaments have passed motions in opposition to ISDS and there is huge opposition against it from trade unions, NGOs and civil society across Europe. Similarly, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions recently came out against the ISDS proposal.

“The Commission can do all the window dressing it likes but the simple fact of the matter is that they have done nothing but tinker at the edges with ISDS and the proposal before the Committee today was nothing short of a whitewash.

“It’s even more disappointing to find out that this was only carried as a result of a deal struck last night between the two majority parties on the INTA Committee.

 “The Trade Committee had a golden opportunity to present the concerns of the people of Europe but instead it has chosen to turn its back on those it is supposed to represent.

“The European Parliament and particularly Irish MEPs need to get their act together and increase pressure to ensure we deliver a clear message when it comes before the June Plenary.

"I am calling on the members of the European Parliament to inform themselves of the concerns of the people across Europe in relation to TTIP and take real action to address them or risk distancing themselves from those who put them into office."


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Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams today attended a briefing in Leinster House given by the Louth IFA on the government’s new Beef Data and Genomics Scheme.

Speaking afterward, Teachta Adams said:

“The IFA briefing was well presented and detailed and it highlighted the many genuine concerns the farming community have about the government’s Beef Data and Genomics Scheme. It is clear that in its present form that the scheme is unworkable.

“The main areas of worry for farmers include the unfair criteria; the inflexibility of the six year rule, payment claw backs, the genomic testing requirement and costs, the replacement requirements, and the penalties which accompany the scheme.

“The IFA have put forward a series of detailed and thoughtful flexible proposals to address farmers concerns.

“I would urge the Minister to engage meaningfully with the IFA, suspend the May 29 deadline for applications, and seek a speedy agreement to end the uncertainty for beef farmers.” 

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Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams today hosted the GAA Healthy Club project from Croke Park to the Dáil.

The Sinn Féin leader invited the GAA Community and Health team into Leinster House to brief Oireachtas members of the project.

The briefing was presented by Colin Reagan, the GAA Community and Health Manager and his colleagues Stacey Cannon, Emmet Haughian, and Brid Traynor. It was attended by around two dozen TDs, Seanadoirí, and their staff.

Teachta Adams said:

“I want to commend the GAA and its Community and Health team on this remarkable initiative. I first became acquainted with this wonderful project as a result of the hard work and effort of St. Colmcilles GAC in East Meath

“Healthy Club is a partnership effort involving the GAA, Healthy Ireland, the Health Service Executive and the National Office for Suicide Prevention. It is funded by the HSE and Irish Life have donated €1 million over three years.

“Healthy Club is rooted in the volunteer spirit of the GAA and is about health promotion. It involves a wide range of specific initiatives including mental health, health screening, bullying, diet and nutrition, inclusion and community outreach, drug and alcohol awareness, life skill and personal development, anti-smoking, facilities development, and engagement with older community members.

“The GAA and clubs like St. Colmcilles are making a real and positive difference in people’s lives. They contribute freely of their time and talent and they deserve our thanks, our solidarity, our support, and our encouragement to continue to do what they do.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today secured a commitment from the Taoiseach Enda Kenny that he will raise concerns about Tory government plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and hold an in-out referendum on EU membership, with the British Prime Minister when he meets him in several weeks’ time.

The British Queen’s speech to Parliament, which took place this morning, sets out the British government’s legislative programme for the year ahead.

Speaking in the Dáil shortly after the speech was given the Sinn Féin leader raised his concerns about plans by the Tory government to repeal the Human Rights Act.

In recent days the Chief Commissioner of the north’s Human Rights Commission, Les Allamby, who has described the Human Rights Act as ‘a force for good’, has expressed his disquiet at any diminution of human rights law in the north.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice has also criticised Tory threats to the Human Rights Act and to Britain resiling from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Teachta Adams said:

“This morning’s speech outlining British government intentions has confirmed that the Tories plan to bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights. British government ministers and media briefings have made clear Conservative determination to displace the European Convention of Human Rights and to repeal the Human Rights Act.

“The speech has also confirmed that there will be an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

“These two measures have enormous implications for this island. Any lessening of human rights law and specifically the repeal of the Human Rights Act would be a grievous breach of the Good Friday Agreement. It would seriously undermine the institutional architecture of that agreement, particularly in respect of policing and justice matters.

“Any decision to leave the European Union would have enormous economic consequences for the island of Ireland but especially for the economy of the north. The agricultural industry and community which especially rely on EU funding would be seriously damaged.”

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Speaking today on the government’s process of putting community services to tender Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that Minister Ann Phelan’s attitude in the Dáil when responding to questions during a topical debate on those very processes was a ‘disgrace.’

Ó Snodaigh said:

“Rather than deal with the fact this government’s decision to put community services to tender via the SICAP (Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme) process with the resultant job losses and possibly the full loss of the DMAP (Disability Mainstream Access Project) service in Dublin 12 Minister Phelan tried to deflect the blame.

“Instead of addressing the issue of job loses the minister chose to recite the SICAP process which both I and the house are fully aware of and continued to lay blame at the LCDC’s (Local Community Development Committees) door.

He continued:

“In the case of the DMAP, a small service which works with those with disabilities in the Dublin 12 area, there has already been one such job loss when a part-time co-ordinator was laid off earlier this month due to the fact that €30,000 of their funding was cut.

“This was a direct result of the tendering process imposed on the umbrella partnership groups by Minister Alan Kelly.

“In February the same Minister had promised the Dáil that the government would address any issues that arise in the area of service provision to ensure people will receive the services they need.

“I am now calling on the senior minister to intervene and respond positively, and to protect the services of DMAP by restoring the much needed €30,000 from the funding cut of €2million to community services as a result of the tendering process.

“To do so would protect a disability service in an area of Dublin which is recognised as severely disadvantaged whether you have a disability or not.”

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Speaking after the historic vote on the marriage referendum at the weekend, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has said that the huge politicisation of young people must be recognised and now that it has taken root, must be encouraged lest this opportunity to engage young voters be lost.

Senator Reilly said:

“There are many reasons for Irish people to be joyful in the aftermath of the Marriage Equality Referendum, not least because of the significance of the result itself which was a great signifier of the progressiveness of our society.

“Commendation must go to the vast number of young people who played their part in this campaign, from canvassing for the referendum to voting on the day. The engagement and diligence of young people over the last number of weeks gives great hope for Ireland’s future.

“Many of the young people who registered to vote in the last week’s referendum had never voted before, the old perception of one vote won’t change anything was cast aside, young people realised the importance of their vote and cast them in their hundreds of thousands for an issue they truly believed in.

“In the final weeks before the referendum, I was keenly aware that there were 478 additions to the supplementary register of electors in Cavan and 453 in Monaghan. While not all of these were young voters, the registration efforts made by students unions and youth organisations in the last year can account for the large swells in those on the electoral register.

“While it is true that young people are more inclined to participate in informal political processes such as activism, protests, and campaigns, the marriage equality referendum unified this approach with engagement in formal political participation.

“It must be said that one of the successes of the referendum was its ability to bring young people closer to formal politics than ever before in Ireland.

“The feel good factor that this referendum brought to the nation was evidence of the positive contribution that young people can make to politics in Ireland.

“It is now critical that young people, cognisant of the affect their vote can have and the changes that do come when people vote, continue the process of voting in all elections. Young people took ownership of the political process and they must continue to do so.

“Recognising that every decision made at local, national and international level affects them, they must continue to exercise their vote so that the parties and people that best represent their interests are elected.” 

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Responding to revelations tonight of serious corruption and bribery in football's governing body, FIFA, stretching back 20 years, Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has demanded a re-run of the vote that selected Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup.

Ms Boylan said:

"It seemed inconceivable in 2010 that FIFA would select Qatar, a country with summer temperatures of 45 degrees, as the host of the 2022 World Cup.

"But it has been even more astonishing that FIFA has ignored the calls from human rights organisations and the international trade union movement to relocate the tournament as a result of the appalling, slave-like conditions migrant workers constructing the stadiums are forced to endure.

"Tonight it has emerged that FIFA officials are alleged to have accepted bribes and kickbacks - for the award of the World Cup and to rig elections - worth more than US$150m over the past 24 years.

Such deep-seated corruption within the organisation would at last explain its inexplicable decision to grant Qatar the World Cup.

"The Play Fair Qatar NGO, which campaigns for the rights of the mainly Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar, has stated that a shocking 62 construction workers building World Cup infrastructure will die for every game played during the 2022 tournament.

"Already hundreds are dying each year. Young migrant workers are literally being worked to death on the stadiums and the cause of death is often heart failure.

"Earlier this month Human Rights Watch produced a report that described the kafala system -which binds the migrant worker to their employer, making them vulnerable to severe exploitation for fear of being deported - as modern-day slavery. Many employers confiscate the passports of workers upon their arrival in Qatar.

Ms. Boylan continued:

"There are now more than 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar, around 94% of the overall population. They are housed in over-crowded and unsanitary labour camps, and the right to strike or form a union is prohibited.

"FIFA's silence on this appalling exploitation has been deafening. Corruption was always suspected but tonight's revelations add a lot of weight to this suspicion, and I welcome the fact that the process by which the 2022 tournament host was selected is now to be investigated.

"And it is not enough for Qatar to make vague assurances that it will improve these conditions at some unspecified time in the future.

"In light of the evidence that exists of slave-like conditions for workers, and these new revelations of FIFA corruption, there is only one viable option - to re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup."

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Leagan Gaeilge thíos – English version below

Sinn Féin Senator, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh says he understands that an Oireachtas Committee report on the Seaweed Industry is to be published in the coming days and that it is welcome, but overdue.

“I commend the Oireachtas committee for having hearings on the issue, but I was concerned at the delays in issuing their recommendations. I understand that will now happen in the coming days.

“I believe that the report recommends the overhauling of the licensing regime for the seaweed industry, with the responsibility being transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It is also envisaged by the committee that the issuing of licences would be done by the local authorities or Údarás na Gaeltachta.

“Improved regulation is also called for and legal clarification on historical seaweed harvesting rights are sought as well.

“The issue of quotas and ‘use it or lose it’ licence clauses pertaining to licenses is also addressed and they call for a national inventory to be done of the seaweed resource. The committee do not seem to support the awarding of ‘blanket’ licences with exclusive rights. This was a particular concern of stakeholders in relation to a proposed licence application from Arramara teo.

“I would have hoped that the issue of a ‘fair trade’ model of harvesting could have been supported in the report, as I believe that this is the most practical way of developing the industry, which has great potential, whilst safeguarding the rights of harvesters who could supply both large and small processers in a well-managed, sustainable marketplace. But it is my understanding that this is not included in the recommendations.

“The Government must now make its intentions for the future management and regulation of the seaweed industry in Ireland clear and it must ensure that coastal communities and the rights of all stakeholders are given due consideration in the regulatory framework that is to be developed.”

Failte roimh thuairisc feamainne, fiú más mall féin é – Ó Clochartaigh

Deir Seanadóir Shinn Féin, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh go dtuigtear dhó go bhfuil tuairisc ó Chomhchoiste Oireachtais ar Thionscal na Feamainne le foilsiú as seo go ceann cúpla lá agus fáiltíonn sé roimhe, fiú má bhí fanacht fada leis.

“Molaim an Chomhchoiste as ucht éisteachtaí a ghairm ar an ábhar seo, ach bhí imní orm faoin mhoill a bhain le foilsiú a gcuid moltaí. Tuigtear dom anois go ndéanfar sin as seo go ceann cúpla lá.  

“Creidim go molann an tuairisc go ndéanfaí atheagar ar an gcóras ceadúnais do thionscal na feamainne agus go n-aistreofaí an chúram sin ón Roinn Comhshaoil go dtí an Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia & Mara. Molann an comhchoiste freisin gurb iad na hÚdaráis Áitiúla, nó Údarás na Gaeltachta, ab fheiliúnaí le déileáil le h-eisiúint cheadúnais.

“Moltar rialú níos fearr a chuir i bhfeidhm agus iarrtar soiléiriú dlíthiúil a thabhairt maidir le cearta stairiúla bainte feamainne chomh maith.

“Déantar tagairt freisin sa tuairisc maidir le cuótaí a chuir i bhfeidhm agus clásail ‘úsáid é, nó caill é’ a bheith ag baint le ceadúnais agus go ndéanfaí tuarascáil náisiúnta maidir le méid na h-acmhainní feamainne atá ann. Ní cosúil go  dtacaíonn an choiste le ‘ceadúnais leathan’ le cearta eisiacha a bhronnadh ar aon dream. Bhí sé seo mar ábhar imní ach go h-áirithe ag geallsealbhóirí éagsúla maidir le h-iarratas ar cheadúnais a bhí dhá phlé, a bhain le hArramara teo.

“Bhí mise dóchasach go mbeadh leagan amach ‘Trádáil Chothrom’ molta sa tuairisc mar cur chuige bainte feamainne, mar measaim gurb é seo an bealach is praiticiúla leis an tionscal, a bhfuil deiseanna an-mhaith ann, a fhorbairt, ach fós a thabharfadh cosaint do chearta lucht bainte a d’fhéadfadh soláthar a dhéanamh do thairgeoirí beaga agus móra ar bhealach deá-bhainistithe, inmharthanach. Ach, is é mo thuiscint nach bhfuil seo san áireamh ins na moltaí.

‘Ní mhór don Rialtas anois an fhís atá acu féin do bhainistiú agus rialú thionscal na feamainne a shoiléiriú agus caithfidh siad cinntiú go dtabharfar aire mar is ceart do chearta pobail cois chósta agus na geallsealbhóirí uilligh, sa gcreatlach rialaithe a fhorbraíonn siad.”

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Speaking following a Budget Committee meeting in Brussels today, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada MEP expressed her disappointment on the lack of detail given by the Commission in its adoption of the European draft Budget for 2016.

“Given that there has been so much emphasis on investing in jobs growth and employment, it seems to me to be very hypocritical of the Commission to commit to growth while at the same time reducing the amount of payment commitments to this sector.

“I can only assume that they are banking on the much famed Juncker Investment package to shore up the losses that the SME sector will endure. They also state that the Connecting Europe Fund and Horizon 20/20 as well as the Youth Employment Initiatives are high priorities. If this is the case then why have these specific funds been cut? Why is the Commission raiding the CEF and Horizon 2020 to underwrite the Juncker plan

“It is also apparent that some EU programs are still suspended while waiting to be paid,  and that the monies allotted to these are being used to pay off unpaid EU bills. In true Commission style addressing the root of the problem is not a priority. Instead it is business as usual; shoring up the banks, shoring up the private investors and leaving those most in need starved of any real investment.

“If Ireland and Europe are to witness real growth and real recovery, targeted, sustainable and transparent investment needs to take place. Robbing Peter to pay Paul will not cut it.”

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Sinn Féin the only party in the North firmly opposed to austerity - McGuinness


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Senator Kathryn Reilly, Mary Lou McDOnald TD & Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD