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.
Sinn Féin spokesperson for youth affairs, Senator Fintan Warfield has criticised the Government for failing to honour their commitment to hold a referendum on reducing the voting age to 16.
Senator Warfield said:
“It has been six years since the Constitutional Convention recommended that the State should consider reducing the voting age to sixteen. The previous Government, of which An Taoiseach served in cabinet, accepted this recommendation and announced plans to hold a referendum.
“In September 2017, the Government reiterated this commitment when it announced an indicative timetable of referenda to be held, including lowering the voting age to 16.
“The current Programme for Government also commits to the holding of a referendum.
“The latest announcement by Government that the referendum will not be held in 2019 means that there is no chance of this referendum taking place this term, given that they plan to drag out the self-serving confidence and supply agreement until early next year.
“I am extremely disappointed by this.
“Fine Gael policy on lowering the voting age is chaotic. They oppose Sinn Féin legislation that would lower the voting age for Local and European Parliament elections, instead promising a referendum to address the voting age in all elections, yet they continually fail to facilitate this referendum.
“The findings of the Constitutional Convention in 2013 are an inconvenience to Government.
“I will be calling on Minister Murphy and Minister Phelan to come before the Seanad to explain their failures on this issue."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan MLA has welcomed the allocation of an additional £3m to Health and Social Care services to deal with winter pressures.
Pat Sheehan said:
"I, along with Sinn Féin colleagues, have been visiting Health Trusts across the north over the winter to discuss the challenges facing services.
"Health and social care staff have been working extremely hard over the winter to implement plans to ensure they continue to meet the needs of the community over the winter period.
"The announcement of an additional £3m to address winter pressures will no doubt be welcome particularly in boosting recruitment in the domiciliary care sector.
"It is clear in my meetings with Trust staff, particularly those in A&E departments, that the serious pressures facing services are now year-round rather than just winter pressures.
"Challenges such as delayed discharges are often a result of a lack of capacity in the domiciliary care sector.
"Capacity in domiciliary care sector is a serious and ongoing problem felt across the north and initiatives to address it need to be pursued throughout the year.”
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has called on health authorities to address public concerns over the re-opening of a care home that had previously been closed due to serious care failings.
The party Carers spokesperson said:
"There is genuine concern in the public with the re-opening of what used to be Ashbrooke Care Home, a facility that had been previously shut down by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) for serious failures in care.
"Although the care home will be renamed Meadow View it will remain under the same ownership - Runwood Homes - which has a record of incidents of serious breaches in care standards in the north of Ireland.
"Understandably this has caused distress in the public.
"The RQIA need to explain to the public the process and rationale for re-registering the new care home in the event this happens.
"The Western Trust need to clarify whether any trust commissioned services will be delivered by the home and satisfy itself and the public that safe and effective care will be provided.”
Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald, has welcomed planning approval for a new £45 million campus for the Southern Regional College.
The party's further and higher education spokesperson said:
"I welcome the planning approval for the Craigavon campus of the Southern Regional College.
"The development of the Craigavon campus is part of an overall £95 million investment from the Southern Regional College, supported by the Department for the Economy.
"The new campus in Craigavon will provide opportunities for training and education for young people including apprenticeships as well as employment opportunities in STEM, IT, hospitality and tourism among other subject areas.
"The development of the campus will also support hundreds of jobs during its construction.
“Investment in skills and infrastructure is vital to support local economic development."
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has welcomed the creation of almost 100 jobs in Downpatrick with a £3m investment in vegan and vegetarian food plant, Finnebrogue Artisan.
The South Down MP said:
"This significant investment and jobs boost at Finnebrougue Artisan in Downpatrick is welcome news for the local area and will provide a boost to the local economy.
"This investment will see a new facility making vegan and vegetarian meat products at its existing factory near Downpatrick and will create 90 jobs.
"It is heartening to see an emerging international foods company showing loyalty to the area with this investment.
"This will add to the vibrant and growing local food and produce offering in South Down.
"I wish the company well with this investment and look forward to further growth in the future."
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has today met the company behind a controversial gold mine in the Sperrins, to reiterate the party’s opposition to the proposal.
Commenting after the meeting with Dalradian, Michelle O’Neill said:
“Sinn Féin share the concerns of residents regarding the Dalradian proposal and I made that very clear to the company today.
“Sinn Féin’s position on gold mining and processing is unambiguous and was set out in the motion unanimously passed by the Ard Fheis in 2017.
“We are opposed to the use of cyanide in mining due to its environmental and health implications.
“And we recognise the environmental damage caused by precious metals mining and the extraction of Ireland's non-renewable natural resources.
“That is why Sinn Féin's former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard MP made it clear that any planning application should be subject to an independent public inquiry before a final decision is taken. That remains our position.
“Sinn Féin will also be submitting co-ordinated motions before four local councils opposing the Dalradian plan to develop a goldmine and processing plant in the Sperrins and wider region.”
The Sinn Féin Council Groups on Mid Ulster, Fermanagh-Omagh, Derry-Strabane and Causeway, Coast and Glens have simultaneously lodged the following motion for discussion at their next full council meeting:
"This Council opposes plans to develop a goldmine and processing plant in the Sperrins and wider region. Given the serious health and environmental risks involved, this council is opposed to the use of cyanide for mining purposes, which also contravenes the European Parliament resolution of 27 April 2017 on the implementation of the Mining Waste Directive (2006/21/EC)".
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD today said that Fine Gael’s refusal to introduce ticket touting legislation has resulted in the problem escalating for consumers, with the number of complaints tripling over the past 4 years.
Speaking today after receiving a parliamentary question response, the Limerick City TD said;
“350 complaints regarding ticket touting were lodged with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission last year alone, yet this government have still not introduced any measures to combat the problem.
“This is over three times the number of complaints that were registered in 2015, and highlights ticket touting as an escalating problem.
“1,006 complaints have been lodged since the establishment of the CCPC 4 years ago, so it is abundantly clear legislation is needed now to ensure consumers are protected.
“It is almost two years since I introduced an anti-ticket touting bill in the Dáil, but like most opposition Bills in this Dáil, it is now being blocked by An Taoiseach who is refusing to issue a money message for it to proceed any further.
“Minister Humphreys announced to much fanfare last July that the government had agreed to bring forward their own legislation on the issue, but six months later that legislation is nowhere to be seen.
“It’s clear Fine Gael and their Deputies are more interested in media coverage they can get on the problem of ticket touting rather than actually putting an end to the problem.
“These complaints are a direct result of the government dragging their feet on the issue, with genuine sports and music fans the biggest loser at the end of the day.
“Personally, I do not care whose name is on the ticket touting Bill or what party brings it forward, once a solution is introduced and the problem is stamped out once and for all.”
Note: Please see the PQ in question attached
Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has expressed concern after a homeless man was found dead in Belfast City Centre on Friday morning.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“It’s of serious concern that a homeless man was found dead in Belfast city centre this morning.
“No one should ever have to sleep on the street, particularly in the cold weather.
“But sadly over recent years we have seen rising levels of homelessness around the city centre and across the north.
“Homeless charities have been doing great work but it is important that the Housing Executive and statutory bodies continue providing support to people sleeping on the street.
“My thoughts are with this man’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called on the government to treat nurses with the respect they deserve by supporting their demand for pay increases.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, Deputy Munster criticised the government’s claim that it was not in a position to pay for the increase, pointing to the fact that the Minister for Finance can pay for tax breaks for banks and landlords and increases in TDs’ pay.
Deputy Munster said:
“We all know the excellent work carried out every day of the week by nurses and midwives in Our Lady of Lourdes and Louth County Hospital and in public health provision right across the state.
“Nurses view strike action as a last resort, so the fact that 95% of balloted INMO members voted in favour of strike action should be a wake-up call for this government.
“Nurses and midwives are taking a stand to ensure that sick and vulnerable people can be looked after properly in a safe and well-resourced environment.
“Nurses have been leaving the country for years to escape the poor conditions in the HSE. Conditions are terrible – nurses are overworked, services are under-resourced and the work is difficult and often dangerous.
“Conditions are deteriorating due to the recruitment and retention crisis, which stems directly from poor working conditions and poor pay.
“Despite a population increase of half a million in the past 10 years, we have 6% fewer staff nurses.
“The government currently spends €1.2million a week on agency nursing staff to plug the gap in services. This is a huge waste of tax-payers’ money. We need to invest in services and in nurses.
“If the Minister for Finance can afford tax breaks for banks and landlords in his Budgets, he can afford to pay nurses fairly.
“Sinn Féin is fully behind the action taken by nurses. I sincerely hope that the Minister for Health comes to his senses and does not allow the situation to escalate to strike action
“It’s high time this Minister and this government showed nurses and midwives the respect they deserve.”
Sinn Féin Lisburn North representative Joe Duffy has met again with Translink officials to discuss the issue of public transport services in the North Lisburn Boomers Road area.Joe Duffy said:“Following recent canvasses along the Boomers Road in North Lisburn, the issue of a lack of public transport was raised numerous times. “Arising from this, I have been in regular contact with, and have met, representatives of both Ulster Bus and Translink to see if anything can be done. “Another meeting was held yesterday in the bus depot in Lisburn, in which proposals were made to senior officials. “The meeting was positive and productive and I hope that in the period ahead the people of North Lisburn will receive positive news. “Until that happens I will continue to campaign for the people of North Lisburn to ensure a bus service to Belfast is established.
“This is one of my key objectives as the Sinn Féin representative for this area.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has said that the Irish Government must push for a referendum on Irish Unity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Deputy McDonald said that Irish rights & interests must be protected throughout Brexit, and that there cannot be a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal scenario.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta McDonald said;
“A no-deal Brexit would have a catastrophic impact on the island of Ireland.
“The so-called ‘backstop’ remains the only guarantee that there will be no hard border on this island and that the interests of citizens in the North - the majority of whom voted against Brexit - will be protected.
“It must be defended and it cannot be watered down under any circumstance.
“Unless there is a backstop there is no way of guaranteeing that there will be no hard border, that the Good Friday Agreement will be protected and upheld and that citizens will continue to enjoy rights we take for granted today.
“I will speak to Theresa May tomorrow and assert that the constitutional future of the North should be put to the people in a referendum on Irish unity.
“If the people of the North are to have their futures shattered by the British establishment, then the people of the North must have their say.
“It is now time for the government here to articulate that they too would like to see a referendum being held in the event of a no-deal scenario.
“If Westminster insists on driving toward a no-deal crash, then a referendum on Irish unity, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, must be called as the entirely rational response, which would provide a pathway for the North to retain membership of the European Union.
“In the interim, let’s hope a deal can be reached.
“If the Brits insist on Brexit that is a matter for them, but any Agreement needs to recognise, understand and protect the people of this island, our economy and our peace process.
"I appreciate the Taoiseach and Tánaiste don’t want to be seen as part of the government who impose a hard border on the island.
"Brexit is as much an issue for those in Derry or Fermanagh, as those in Dublin or Cork.
“It will adversely affect our entire island and it is vital that we deal with its challenges on that basis.
“That means respecting the fundamental principal of the supremacy of national self-determination.
“There is no such thing as a good Brexit, but the ‘backstop’ is the bottom line.
“Anyone who imagines that can be unpicked or diluted or set aside isn't dealing with the political realities.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has told the British Secretary of State that her government is still not listening to the fears of the public who are aghast at the latest ‘pantomime’ in Westminster’
Commenting after a phone conversation with Karen Bradley today, Michelle O’Neill said: “I had a frank discussion with the British Secretary of State and I told her that her government is clearly still not listening to fears of the public who are aghast at the pantomime currently playing out in the Westminster parliament.
“With each passing day, our business community, our farmers, our community and voluntary sector are growing more concerned at where this shambles will ultimately end up. And it is they who will pay the price of a no-deal crash Brexit.
“Unfortunately that is where we are likely to end up if Karen Bradley’s government pursues a solution by attempting to placate and appease the DUP and the hard Brexiteers.
“Those people are clearly not concerned about the impact of their reckless actions on our economy and our communities.
“That is why it is crucial – now more than ever – that the Dublin Government and the EU27 stand firm on the position that there can be no agreement without a backstop that prevents a hard border in Ireland and protects our peace and political process.”
Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Education and Skills Kathleen Funchion TD has said that the 3,500 school secretaries working in our education system deserved pay and conditions that reflect the invaluable work they carry out for our schools and communities.
Speaking in support of Forsa’s campaign SOS: ‘Support our Secretaries’ which is was launched in Dublin today, Teachta Funchion called for fair pay and working conditions for school secretaries.
The Carlow/Kilkenny TD said:
“It’s often the local school secretary who acts as the backbone of a school ensuring the day to day operation runs smoothly.
“We all know that without the school secretary, a school is practically inoperable.
“Only approximately 10% of school secretaries are directly employed by the Department of Education and School boards of management govern the rest.
“Working terms and conditions are not standardized. The majority have no security of employment, no occupational pensions, and are forced to sign on each year during summer holidays.
“Shockingly, some secretaries who are paid through their school's ancillary grant are working on salaries as low as €12,000 a year.
“Given the workload and responsibility involved in their roles, this is completely unreasonable.
“I fully support Forsa in calling on the Department of Education to implement measures that would provide for entitlements and protections equivalent to clerical staff on public service pay scales.”
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has full and public investigation into the overspend on the National Children’s Hospital.
Speaking in the Dáil today Teachta Doherty said;
‘The situation regarding the overrun in terms of the National Children's Hospital is a catastrophic failure of this government and those overseeing the project.
“The explanations given to the health committee were absurd and farcical to tell you the truth.
“We know that the original tender from balm was one hundred and thirty one million euro lower than the nearest competitor. No did nobody in the department raise an issue as to how the tender price came in one hundred and thirty one million lower than what anybody else could build a hospital for.
“I recall Minister Leo Varadkar at the time raising issues in terms of the costs of this and actually suggesting it could come up under cost at one stage.
“Given that we know that there is an overrun of over a billion euro and that could grow further that there is a need for accountability and there is a need for a full, open and transparent public inquiry into how this project has got completely out of control and who is responsible.
“That was public money so will you commit to the government allowing for a full and public investigation into this a complete catastrophe?”
Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that it is a clear sign of an appalling systems failure that almost 8,000 young people were not prosecuted, as outlined in the Garda report launched this afternoon.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire stated:
“It is an absolute disgrace and frankly unacceptable that 7,894 reported crimes by more than 3,500 children and young people were not progressed.
"This resulted in some serious crimes being committed where they could and should have intervened at a much earlier stage.
“The review shows that roughly 75% of crimes not appropriately progressed fell into four crime categories: public order, theft, traffic, and criminal damage.
“Although significant crimes, I’m even more concerned that there were a total of 55 serious offences identified, including one rape, one sexual assault and one child neglect case.
“It is incredible and sickening to imagine that someone may have made a complaint to the Gardaí about a serious crime such as a violent assault or a rape, and nothing happened, it is scandalous.
“It is deeply worrying that there was a failure to progress cases regarding 1 child 37 times, as well as the 2,500 cases in which there were multiple failures.
“There were undoubtedly systems failures here, and the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice need to address this, and disciplinary actions need to be considered for Gardaí who failed the victims and the children in question.
“Those responsible have to be held responsible for their actions, but we must look at the chronic under resourcing of the Gardaí, and the consequences of having a force that doesn’t have the tools to perform the functions expected of it.
“Indeed the Commissioner himself stated at the Policing Authority that Divisions which are busier are where you see a concentration of cases not progressed.
“The PULSE network, at least from the outside looking in, seems antiquated, and simply put, not fit for purpose. To say that Garda data and oversight in the last few years has not been great would be an understatement.
“Where a young person is deemed unsuitable for the Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDP), it is generally for a very good reason.
"This report is not evidence of a failure of a good system to prevent crime and steer young people away from crime.
“it is also concerning that thus may not be the end of it, and the Chair of the Policing Authority has indicated that there may be additional issues, with similar outcomes for large numbers of children.
“There are also clearly significant resourcing issues, particularly in busy districts. Garda management and the Minister need to address this.
Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has called on the Education Authority to overturn a decision to remove an Irish language translation from its logo.
The party’s Education spokesperson said:
“Moves by the Education Authority to remove Irish language translation from its logo are unacceptable and falls short of its own equality scheme for changing policy.
"Following my challenge to the EA’s claim that they change was the result of a Ministerial direction the EA was forced to admit that this was not the case but rather an arbitrary decision by the Chief Executive of the EA.
“The education system must be inclusive and for everyone in our society, including those who wish to be educated through the medium of Irish.
“Government departments also have a duty to promote the Irish language and that includes the use of bilingual logos and Irish on official documentation.
“This type of decision brings into sharp focus the need for Acht Gaeilge to provide legal protections to the Irish language.
"It is now imperative that the EA take the necessary steps to rectify this.
“I will continue to press the case until there is a reversion to the direction set by John O’Dowd when he was Education Minister."
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Denise Mitchell TD has said that the findings of a HIQA report published this morning into Tusla’s Child Protection and Welfare Services in Dublin South Central are “unacceptable and raise serious concerns”.
Speaking from Leinster House, Deputy Mitchell said:
“The findings of this HIQA report are a cause of deep concern, and demand urgent answers from Minister Zappone.
“I am particularly concerned by what the report suggests is ‘an underreporting of allegations of abuse from the child protection and welfare service to An Garda Síochána’. This is totally unacceptable. Serious questions need to be raised as to why a robust system for notifying An Garda Síochána of suspected abuse was not in place and why social workers failed to act appropriately in this regard.
“The report also raises further concerns around long waiting lists and continuous inaction when it came to responding to welfare concerns raised about children. We continue to see serious deficits when it comes to good record keeping and the completion of assessments in line with good practice. This is simply not good enough.
“Tusla deals with some of the most vulnerable children in our society and we want to be assured that children who are at risk are receiving the appropriate protection and support in a timely manner.
“It is evident from the report that some of the problems stem from the inability of Tusla to recruit and retain staff, in particular social workers. This is a major issue that has been repeatedly raised with the Minister yet there has been nothing done to address the staffing crisis in the sector.
“The Minister needs to get on top of this problem quickly because failure to do so is leaving vulnerable children at risk.”