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Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Kenny TD has said Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must appear before the Oireachtas Joont Committe on Agriculture to explain tge circumstances of the reappointment of the CEO of Horse Racing Irekand.

Martin Kenny said:

“I have already submitted a list of Parliamentary Questions regarding the reappointment of the CEO Horse Racing Ireland for a third term, despite guidelines stipulating a maximum of two terms. I have not yet received a response to these questions.

“However, following reports on RTE today that the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform had both been misled regarding the role of the board of the HRI in the re-appointment, I have requested that Minister Creed come before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture along with representatives of the board of HRI to update us on the current situation.

"It seems that the CEO of HRI is being paid well above the recommended limit for such a position and that this is his third term, despite guidelines to the contrary. 

“This is not new politics but old-style cronyism and citizens are fed up of hearing about this kind of jobs-for-the-boys situation.

"In the interests of public confidence and transparency, Michael Creed must inform the members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee of the background to this situation and the current state of play and I have contacted the clerk of the committee in this regard this evening."

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy hosted an event today in the Dublin entitled ‘Tax justice, not tax havens’, featuring author and Tax Justice Network representative Nicholas Shaxson. Sinn Féin Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir addressed the event along with Trinity Finance Professor Jim Stewart.

Representatives from Oxfam, Christian Aid, ATTAC Ireland, Trócaire, the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, Action Aid, Comhlámh and others attended, taking part in a roundtable discussion.

Addressing the meeting, Matt Carthy said:

“It’s clear after the Apple case that what was once the central plank of the Irish state’s industrial strategy – attracting FDI through our corporate tax regime – could soon become a liability as we continue to build a reputation throughout the world as a state that facilitates massive tax avoidance by multinational corporations.

As pressure on this matter intensifies corporations are likely to seek to avoid being associated with any state with a poor reputation in the field of tax policy. We need to ensure that we do not find ourselves positioned on the wrong side of this debate."

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Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane said proactive steps must be taken to encourage more women into politics and roles of leadership.

Speaking before attending the International Conference on ‘Women and Leadership in a Changing World’ at Queen’s University Belfast, Ms Ruane said:

“We require real proactive steps to support women to enter and advance in political and public life. 

“In recent years many strides have been made to promote the role of women in politics and public life, but more work needs to be done.

"Unfortunately outdated sexist attitudes still exist, these can prevent women from getting involved in political and public life.

“I would like to pay tribute to the work currently being done by Queen’s University Gender Initiative and the Centre for the Advancement of Women in Politics to challenge these attitudes.

“Such attitudes need to be changed and we must continue to challenge them.

"Sinn Féin is committed to achieving equality of representation and has submitted a bill for consideration on increasing the number of women in politics through gender equality quotas at local government elections to the Assembly.

“We need a genuine step-change and not just an exercise in paying lip service to gender equality.

“True and meaningful gender equality can only be achieved when the remaining barriers and obstacles are removed.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said the NAMA Commission of Investigation must be wider than Project Eagle and should look into the full operation NAMA and its relationship with the Department of Finance and Government Ministers.

Teachta Adams today made a submission to the Taoiseach’s Department on the terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation into NAMA dealings.

Speaking this afternoon he said;

“Sinn Féin has consistently raised concerns about the operation and culture of secrecy of NAMA. At all times both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have sided with NAMA and prevaricated on the demand for greater transparency.

“The recent allegations of insider dealing and the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General report into the disposal of the Northern Loan Book have left these parties with no place to hide.

“There is a need to get to the truth of the operation of NAMA in the North and the scale of the losses passed on to tax payers. However we need to be assured that the malpractice, conflicts of interest and insider dealing at the heart of the northern allegations is not ongoing in other sales.

“That is why we need a full Commission of Investigation into the operation of NAMA which continues to sell off assets and into the relationship between NAMA, the department and Ministers.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has called on the Minister for Education Richard Bruton to address the cost of school books in this year’s budget after it has emerged that just over half of all secondary schools in County Wicklow provide the School Book Rental Scheme.

Teachta Brady was commenting on figures released by the Department of Education and Skills which give a county breakdown of the number of schools that operate the school book rental scheme.

Teachta Brady said:

“We have seen from recent surveys carried out by Barnardos and the Irish League of Credit Unions that the cost of school books remains one of the significant costs of sending children back to school.

“Figures released by the Department of Education show clearly that there is an uneven spread of school book rental schemes in secondary schools across the state.

“In Wicklow, just 52% of secondary schools operate a book rental scheme while 100% of secondary schools in Leitrim do so.

“At primary level, 95% of primary schools in County Wicklow provide the School Book Rental Scheme. This is very welcome and without doubt, assists many parents in some way with back to school costs.

“While we need to see a greater increase in the uptake of the School Book Rental Scheme across the State, there are other issues the Government need to address. The continuous updates and newly revised editions of textbooks as well as the addition of workbooks in many subjects which cannot be reused are adding costs.  This is an issue that must be tackled.

“The Government must tackle increasing school costs in Budget 2017.

“Sinn Féin has called for an increase of 30% in the School Books Grant at an approximate cost of €5 million in order to make affordable school books more accessible to students.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan has described continued Government inaction in the face of the ongoing industrial action by Dublin Bus drivers as ‘unacceptable’, saying that no worker considers strike action lightly and only ever as a last resort. 

Ms Boylan said:

“While the people of Dublin are of course disadvantaged by the strike action, Dublin Bus drivers like any other workers are entitled to take industrial action and do so as a last resort. Dublin Bus drivers do not live in isolation; they too have commuting families who are affected by this industrial action.

“Minister Shane Ross may not wish to be a 'sugar daddy' for the bus drivers but that does not absolve him of a duty of care to the travelling public.  His 'Where’s Wally' approach to this dispute is not going to wash with commuters.  He, as Minister for Transport, is the shareholder in Dublin Bus. He must politically intervene and insist that a mediator is put in place between workers and management.

“The media smear campaign against the strike is in full swing with tales of traffic gridlock and businesses losing revenue. None of this takes into account that no worker takes strike action lightly. There is financial cost to workers when they withdraw their labour. 

“Sinn Féin and I stand with the bus drivers in their action. We hope that Minister Ross stops hiding and instead offers some constructive assistance in the matter before the ultimate resort of all-out action is required. The people of Dublin would like to see some leadership at this time.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA, Pat Sheehan, has welcomed the ending of a hunger strike by three Palestinian prisoners, Mahmoud Al-Balboul, Malik Al-Qadi and Mohammed Al-Balboul, and has called on the Israeli government to immediately release them.

The hunger strikers had demanded an end to the Israeli policy of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. 

A deal has been reached that will ensure that the prisoners administrative detention orders are not renewed or extended.

He said:

'The lives of the Palestinian prisoners were in grave danger. Their health was deteriorating rapidly.  I welcome the negotiations that have seen the three prisoners receive assurances that their administrative detention will not be renewed or extended.

'Israel needs to end their oppressive actions against the Palestinian people, including their policy of Administrative Detention. Israeli aggressive actions are only enflaming and prolonging the conflict. There is a responsibility on the International community to not only highlight but act against such aggression.  The weight of world public opinion must be brought to bear on the Israeli administration. 

'Sinn Féin demands the immediate release of these Palestinian prisoners, the end of Administrative Detention policy, and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle for freedom and statehood.'

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Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has welcomed the launch of online Blue Badge application forms.

The Party’s Disability spokesperson said:

“I welcome the decision by my colleague Chris Hazzard to launch a new online application form for Blue Badges.

“With around 200 applications every day for new and renewal badges this scheme will make it much easier for those applying for Blue Badges and help relive the current backlog.

“The new online facility will help make the turnaround quicker so I would urge people to apply online if they are in a position to do so by going to https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/apply-or-renew-blue-badge.” 

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has called on the public to support tomorrow’s Rise and Repeal Rally in Dublin, saying that the eighth Amendment has created a dangerous space for women in Irish society. The Dublin Central TD also said that the heightened public debate was healthy as there was a lot of misinformation in the discussion such as the notion that removal of the Eighth would create a legal vacuum.

Speaking today Deputy McDonald said;

“The 8th Amendment to the constitution has caused hardship and suffering for women since it was first introduced. The Eighth Amendment has created a dangerous space in Irish society for Irish women and has tragically cost lives.

“Sinn Féin’s view is that it needs to be repealed in order to protect women and to allow for terminations in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities. It is then the duty of legislators to work with stakeholders to create an alternative that prioritises a woman’s welfare, a woman’s health, a woman’s wellbeing. The Eighth Amendment does not consider any of those.

“We are fully behind the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment and Sinn Féin will be marching tomorrow behind the coalition to repeal’s banner. The heightened public debate is a step forward for Irish society and a progressive one. There has been too much misinformation in the public discourse such as the notion that removal of the Eighth would create a legal vacuum; this is not the case.

“Debate and discussion is the only progressive way to deal with any issue and the conversation in Ireland has been avoided for too long.

“I am calling on men and women to come out in huge numbers to support the repeal campaign.” 

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD has called for a full review of the HSE National Ambulance Service fleet following the tragedy of a death of a patient and serious injury to two paramedics at Naas General Hospital.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“As Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the family of the patient who lost his life yesterday. Similarly, we must not forget that two paramedics were injured in the exercise of their duties, and I wish them well on their recovery.

“What happened yesterday was a tragedy and now it is pivotal that not only are the exact circumstances and causes investigated fully, they must be communicated fully to paramedics, their representatives and officials in the Department.

“Those who work in this service cannot be left in the dark on the cause of this tragedy and the circumstances that led to this tragic incident. Indeed, I understand that unions and ambulance representatives expressed concerns previously on other similar incidents, with little official follow-up or investigation.

“It is critical now at this time that while a full forensic and technical examination is carried out of this particular incident, a full review is carried out on the entire ambulance fleet. The paramedics and personnel want to ensure quality of care and patient safety and this cannot happen if there are potential defects in the vehicles, or equipment, currently in use in the service.

“We recognise that the paramedics in our health service are working under growing pressure, with rising numbers and increasingly complex callouts and it is vital that potential defects or accidents do not bear heavy on their minds, when carrying out their important role.” 

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Roads Minister Chris Hazzard today launched a new online application form for Blue Badges.

Applicants will now be able to make a full application through the nidirect website including uploading evidence of entitlements and photos. Payment can also be made online.

Minister Hazzard said: 

“In this modern age, online transactions are the norm and this new online application now gives those applying for blue badges an opportunity to do this from their armchair.

“At present there are around 200 applications a day for new and renewal badges and as many will be aware, there is currently a backlog. I have already taken steps to address this issue and the new online system will also help reduce some of the back office processing work, allowing my staff to get on with the job of issuing badges.”

Minister Hazzard continued: “The more people that use this online facility the quicker the turnaround will be, so I would urge people to apply online if they are in a position to do so by going to https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/apply-or-renew-blue-badge.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has welcomed the publication of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management’s fire safety audit on traveller accommodation. However, the report must be viewed in light of the savage cuts made to funding for Traveller accommodation, which since 2008 has been cut by 88% from €40m down to €4.3m in 2015.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The publication of this report is welcome as it identifies actions that need to be taken to enhance fire safety in local authority provided traveller accommodation and who is responsible for said actions.

“However, all of this must be viewed in light of the broader issue of the continued existence of sub-standard accommodation. A lot of traveller families live in overcrowded and inadequate living conditions across the state. A fact which is highlighted by the fact that in the report separation distances between Traveller accommodation units was identified as an issue of concern in 57% of the sites evaluated.

“The provision of suitable Traveller accommodation with the required facilities is a key responsibility for local authorities under the Government’s Traveller Accommodation Programmes. However, successive years of savage cuts to traveller accommodation budgets by central government have not made this easy to implement.  The government must to outline how and when it intends to restore traveller accommodation funding to pre-2008 levels.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has encouraged people to support a day of action against Brexit organised by the campaign group, Border Communities Against Brexit. 

Mr O'Dowd said; 

"In the recent EU referendum the majority of people in the north - unionist, nationalists and republicans - voted to remain in the EU. 

"It is clear there is widespread concern right across society about the British government's plans to drag us out of the EU against our wishes. 

"And there is no doubt that border communities would be among the worst hit by being forced out of the EU and any strengthening to the border. 

"The campaign group, Border Communities Against Brexit, is made up of trade unionists, the business community, community groups, charities, disability campaigners and others. 

"They will be holding a day of action against Brexit at six locations right across the border from Derry to Dundalk on Saturday October 8 at 3pm. 

"It is important as many people as possible take part to send a clear message that the vote of the people of the North to remain in the EU should be respected."

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Dublin City Council has voted this evening to allow the development of O'Devaney Gardens to proceed.

Speaking during the special council meeting Councillor Daithí Doolan, Chairperson of the council's Housing Committee said:

"We are sinking deeper and deeper into a housing crisis. Consecutive governments have starved Dublin City Council of essential funding for housing. 

"I am supporting our motion to proceed with the development of O'Devaney Gardens. We aim to deliver up to 600 homes on this site. Some 30% of these will be social housing paid for by the department of housing while 20% will be affordable.

“That means we can deliver nearly 200 council homes and 100 affordable. This will happen only after a long, hard won battle with the department of housing. If the government had their way a mere 60 social houses would be built. 

"We will also charge the full cost of the land to the developers. This will allow City Council to use up to €13m to develop social infrastructure in O'Devaney Gardens or develop more housing.

"It is essential that we deliver housing for the 29,000 families languishing on our housing list and the 1000's who are homeless. 

"That's exactly what we aim to do in O'Devaney Gardens and other council land across Dublin."

For further comment call Cllr. Daithí Doolan 0863888152.

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Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for the Heritage and the Arts Peadar Tóibín has said that the Battlefield Moore St site is a real physical link to an idealistic, brave and selfless generation of men and women that, if redeveloped with the appropriate respect and sensitivity to the past, would breathe new life and vitality into an all too often forgotten corner of our capital city.

The Meath West TD said:

“Today, I attended along with my Sinn Féin colleagues Mary Lou McDonald and Mícheál Mac Donncha the Government Forum on the Future of the Moore St Battle Site.

“Afterwards, I got a chance to take the Moore St Historical Tour. Streets that I thought I knew were transformed for me by the recounting of the extraordinary details of just how unnaturally brave and fearless these volunteer men and women were. A 1,000 Irish people surrounded by 20,000 British troops. They were equipped with out of date guns shooting 4 rounds per minute against British machine guns firing 14 rounds per minute plus artillery and incendiary shells raining down on them.

“The vast majority of the quarter was furnace of uncontrolled fires and in the middle of it all The O Rahilly bleeding to death for 19 hours in a doorway writing ‘Goodbye Darling’ to his wife.

“For me, the running sore that is the legal and political dispute over the Moore St Battle Field site is the collision of two Irelands. On one side, we see the greasy till of the Celtic Tiger property days seeking to engulf the quarter with a gigantic shopping centre. On the other, we have a real physical link to an idealistic, brave and selfless generation of men and women.

“Despite the years of false dawns and frankly disingenuous dealings by official Ireland on this issue we may possibly have through the vehicle of this Moore St Forum the last opportunity to maintain this physical link for future generations and create a vibrant cultural and historical quarter that will breathe new life and vitality into a forgotten corner of our capital city.

“I look forward to working with the many stakeholders including the campaigns, the relatives and the traders. And I hope that the Minister will heed our call to save the streets that gave birth to the Nation.” 

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Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis said today, that for the Transport Minster Shane Ross there is no choice but to intervene in the Dublin Bus Strike. 

Deputy Ellis said:

“The refusal by Mr. Ross to intervene is an interesting position for the Transport Minister to take when a national company is at loggerheads with its employees. No side wants industrial action but Dublin Bus management leave the workers with no other option but to continue with strike action in the absence of any willingness to negotiate.

“With the possibility of other industrial action coming down the line it looks like the Minister actions, or lack thereof, leads to one conclusion, that he is trying to play a long game in regards to privatisation. Have no doubt about it, privatisation of our transport network will benefit no-one except the private firm's shareholders. Privatisation will lead to weaker worker rights and pay and less transport services for the public. So it is imperative for the public and the state that the Minister puts his ideology to one side and intervenes.” 

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Following the announcement today that the Scottish Government is to carry out their own inquiry into British Met undercover policing, Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan has called for Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to also carry out an inquiry into their activities on the island of Ireland.

Speaking in Dublin today, Ms Boylan said

“We know for sure that at least one undercover police officer, Mark Kennedy, visited Ireland on a number of occasions and infiltrated a number of campaign groups including Shell to Sea and ShannonWatch.  It is also believed that he embarked on a sexual relationship with at least one female activist.

“In 2015, Theresa May launched an Inquiry into the British Met Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) amid concerns around the behaviour of these undercover police.  Over 50 convictions have been overturned in England and it has also emerged that engaging in long term sexual relationships with women activists was not unusual for these undercover police and in some cases they have even had children with the women.

“Prime Minister May has refused point blank to extend the inquiry outside of England and Wales and, as a result, the Scottish government have now decided to carry out their own investigation.

“The fact that undercover British Met officers were operating on the island of Ireland and spying on legitimate, democratic campaign groups and organisations is deeply concerning.  There are so many questions that need to be answered.  

“Did the Fianna Fáil Minister for Justice at the time, Dermot Ahern sanction their activities?  If not, why did he fail to demand answers of his British counterpart as the German Bundestag did? 

“How many of these undercover police were operating in Ireland?  Why is the British Met refusing to release the full list of groups targeted in Ireland? Are there any convictions of activists in Ireland as a result of the activities of these individuals? 

“Only a full and comprehensive public inquiry would be able to establish these facts.  

“Minister Frances Fitzgerald has a duty of care to the victims of these undercover police, particularly the female victims who were sexually exploited by their actions.   It is simply not good enough for the Minister to shrug her shoulders; she should establish a public inquiry immediately.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on Minister Coveney’s re-announcement of pillar one of the government’s Action Plan for Housing.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The majority of the measures announced today were already announced in July, such as the provision of rapid build units and the expansion of the HAP Homeless Tenancies programme.  We welcome any measures that will help alleviate the homeless crisis and the 200 additional emergency beds for rough sleepers are welcome.

“However, if the Minister wants to really help those at risk of homelessness he should reverse the decision to end the Ministerial Order, under which 50% of social housing was allocated to homeless and other vulnerable households.

“Similarly the creation of an additional 300 Housing First tenancies is best described as a modest expansion and is nowhere near sufficient when you factor in that there are well over 2,000 homeless single people.

“The accelerated provision of rapid build emergency accommodation units in Ballyfermot, Drimnagh, Belcamp and Finglas, should not be delivered at the expense of permanent social housing units in these areas.

“The €70 million in funding, over three years, for the Housing Agency to purchase 1,600 vacant units isn’t enough. Especially when you consider that according to the census figures for 2016 there are more 189,000 vacant units across the state, with 42,930 of these in Dublin.

“I accept that Minister Coveney has acknowledged the depth of the housing and homelessness crisis. However, re-announcing already published measures is no substitute for real action in tackling the homeless crisis.

“In my view the government is not acting with sufficient urgency or providing sufficient funding to people off the streets and into permanent housing.”

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Reacting to the shocking and tragic events in Kildare concerning, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the State must secure sufficient resources to guarantee basic levels of care in our ambulance services, including the provision of vehicles, equipment and personnel. 

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The National Ambulance Service is a key public service. We recognise that the paramedics in our health service are working under growing pressure, with rising numbers and increasingly complex callouts. Similarly, when their vehicles or equipment are under pressure or in need of replacement, the state must ensure these resources are there. We need to secure the resources, which it has been starved of, in order to provide the Ambulance Service which the public deserves. The State must guarantee basic levels of care across the country. 

“Since the publication of the Capacity Review, Sinn Féin has been vocal in calling for Government to engage with all stakeholders and representatives of ambulance professionals to agree on a way forward that ensures we have an operational, properly funded and well-resourced national ambulance service that is fit for purpose. We understand that the unions have raised concerns previously about vehicles and questions need to be answered about why today's tragedy occurred when such flags were raised. 

“That capacity review showed that capacity needs to be increased to meet demands. It pointed to the need for increased resources in terms of personnel, vehicles and technology and we need to see a plan from the Minister now on how and when it will be rolled out. The Government must now make a long term commitment to the funding of a publicly owned and well-resourced National Ambulance Service.

“Today's tragedy is an unfortunate demonstration of the abdication of responsibility by the Minister and the Department in ensuring that these services have the support and resources they need. The paramedics and personnel want to ensure quality of care and patient safety and this cannot happen without a commitment from the Minister in terms of resourcing.  There is a need for Simon Harris to make a statement on this and he must make himself available to discuss how he intends to fund these services in the budget.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has said the British government must release funding for legacy inquests. 

The Sinn Féin legacy spokesperson said; 

"Today families of people killed during the conflict have announced their intention to bring a legal challenge over the British government's failure to provide funding for legacy inquests. 

"All relatives are entitled to truth and it is unacceptable that some have been waiting for more than 45 years at this stage. 

"The British government have a responsibility to address the legacy of the past, including providing funding for legacy inquests, and it is a sign of its failure to do so that the families have been forced to mount this challenge. 

"The British government now needs to release the funding for inquests immediately in order to give these and other families access to truth and justice."

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