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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 MLA Caoimhe Archibald has congratulated the Open University on its 50th anniversary.

The party's further and higher education spokesperson said:  

"The Open University has made an important contribution to opening up access to education through part time and distance learning which allows people to get qualifications in a way that best suits their needs. 

“Part-time education is vitally important in giving people the opportunity of increased access to education and allowing people to up-skill or retrain while continuing in their job.

"The Open University and its method of course delivery has given people the opportunity to improve their lives and job prospects, and to change their perceptions of themselves and the world around them.

"The role of distance learning is becoming more and more important in the increasingly technological world we live in and I wish the Open University and all its students the best for the future.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said today that the party will not be intimidated from providing constituency services and representation to the people of Turf Lodge and the Upper Springfield by those behind a gun attack on his office.

Pat Sheehan said:

“The attack was carried out in the early hours of Thursday morning the 3rd of January.

“Four shots were fired by a masked gunman at the office.

“Shell casings were found close to the building by staff this week.

“Sinn Féin contacted the PSNI on Tuesday and reported the discovery of the casings.

“Local people then told us yesterday that they had heard what sounded like shots being fired last week.

“We checked the CCTV footage at the office and confirmed to police that shots had indeed been fired.

“The police were at the office first thing this morning. They took CCTV footage of the incident and found a further shell casing.

“This is the second gun attack on this office. There was a previous attack on 7 October and only weeks later I was told by police of a threat to my life. 

"We have lived through years of attacks on our members and our offices by loyalists and state forces and Sinn Féin will not be intimidated or deterred by those responsible for this latest attack from providing services without prejudice to all the people of these communities.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Pat Sheehan has said the need for 100 additional doctors a year emphasises the ongoing workforce challenges facing the health and social care (HSC) system in the north of Ireland.

Speaking in response to the 'Review of Medical School Places in 2017' published by the Department of Health, the West Belfast MLA commented: "This review is a clear reminder of the serious challenges facing the HSC workforce, specifically with regards to training doctors.

"Unfortunately these challenges exist across the HSC system and need to be addressed as part of transformation through effective workforce planning, recruitment and retention. 

"Ensuring there is capacity in the workforce to deliver a 21st century universal health and social care system is fundamental to transformation but as stated in Michelle O'Neill's Delivering Together plan real transformation requires additional funding.

"The suggestion from the Department that cuts elsewhere in the system would be required is not acceptable and runs contrary to the transformation agenda.

"As Minister of Health Michelle O'Neill increased the number of GP medical training places in the north but last year a number of these available places were not filled.

"The review recognises there are a number of actions, including but not limited to increasing the number of medical training places, that need to be taken to make the practice of medicine in the north more attractive to people to study and to stay and work in.

"The review also emphasises the important role a Graduate Entry Medical School in the North West could have on increasing the number of doctors trained in the north of Ireland."

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Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louie O’Reilly has has written to the Minister for Health to ask him to request a cooperation agreement with the Belfast Trust for patients in the south to have access to the new Belfast Mesh centre.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“For some time now both I and my colleagues in the north have been fighting for proper services and treatment for women who have been the victims of faulty transvaginal mesh implantation.

“Yesterday my colleague Órlaithí Flynn MLA announced that funding had been secured for a mesh centre in Belfast to treat patients who have been affected by faulty mesh implants and that it is expected to be fully operational by March 2019.

“Once up and running the Belfast mesh centre should be able to assess, scan, and treat patients according to their physical and mental health needs.

“Unfortunately, movement on services and treatment in the south has been painfully slow.

“While we await the development of similar services to the Belfast Mesh Centre in the south, it is important the border does not deny treatment to women in the south.

“With that in mind I have contacted the Minister for Health to ask that he request a cooperation agreement with the health service in the north so that women from the south can attend the Belfast Mesh Centre and avail of the services and treatments it will provide until such time as these services are available from the HSE.

“The victims of these faulty mesh implantations are living in chronic pain and every day without treatment is a further day of suffering.

“We have many fantastic areas of all-Ireland cooperation on health and hopefully this can become another one.”

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Minor changes to Universal Credit will not eradicate the suffering it causes and it should be scrapped altogether, Sinn Féin Welfare spokesperson Alex Maskey MLA has said.

The West Belfast MLA was commenting after British Minister Amber Rudd announced changes to Universal Credit, including scrapping plans to extend the controversial two-child benefit cap.

“The Tories say they want to introduce some compassion to Universal Credit and are learning from the process,” Alex Maskey commented.

“The truth is they have been forced into these changes by a court case and while the Tories are learning, ordinary people are suffering.

“Minor changes, delays and tinkering round the edges is not the answer. Universal Credit is simply not fit for purpose.

“It was supposedly designed to simplify the benefits system but the roll-out so far has clearly shown that it is riddled with faults, complications and delays. 

“The lesson the Tories really need to learn is that Universal Credit has been a disaster and should be scrapped altogether.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal Martin Kenny has condemned what appears to be an arson attack on the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey last night.

Deputy Kenny said;

“This appears to be an arson attack on the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey and it needs to be condemned by all.

“It is a great disappointment for the local community that this hotel has being closed for many years, and now for it to be burnt out is a greater catastrophe for the area.

“It is very alarming to consider this could be an arson attack carried out by people with a racist or anti-immigrant agenda; such attitudes are very dangerous and wrong.

"Arson attacks, threats or racism have no place in Rooskey.

“There has been a lot of concerns regarding the possibility of the Shannon Key West Hotel being used as a direct provision centre.

"The Direct Provision model is not a good model for the taxpayer or the unfortunate refugees seeking asylum.

"The decent people of Rooskey and surrounding areas are generous and welcoming people and would not want to be associated with this type of behaviour or racist agenda.

"Anybody with information on this incident should assist the Gardaí with their enquiries.”

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Carthy sounds alarm on EU proposal on vulture funds

 

Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands North-West, Matt Carthy, has confirmed that he will be writing to civic society bodies including farmers groups, consumer rights organisations, trade unions and housing campaigners to raise the alarm regarding a proposed EU Directive that will give free rein to vulture funds across the EU.

 

The MEP’s letter outlines the serious threat to the rights of borrowers and consumers arising from the proposal, which aims to develop a secondary market for non-performing loans, (the ‘proposal for an EU Directive on credit servicers, credit purchasers and the recovery of collateral’).

 

Carthy said: "This proposed EU Directive is designed to promote the use of vulture funds and securitisation vehicles in order to move this bad debt off the banks’ balance sheets and into the opaque and unregulated shadow banking sector. 

 

“This proposal will also empower banks to seize their customers’ property through an out-of-court recovery mechanism, and will result in borrowers, including mortgage-holders, being pursued more aggressively by vulture funds and debt collectors. 

 

“This EU proposal is nothing less than a second bailout for the banks. The non-performing loan problem was not caused by ordinary people and they should not be forced to bear the brunt of resolving it. The real goal of this proposal is not to ensure banks lend again but to ensure they return to making massive profits again. 

 

“The debt vultures will be encouraged to spread their wings and move from just operating in Ireland and Spain to operating across the EU, while securitisation will be promoted as a so-called solution to the non-performing loan problem.  A private equity fund will be able to register in one member state and get a ‘passport’ to operate in any EU state, while only being bound by the regulations in place in the state where it is registered. 

 

“The worst part of this proposal is that it will put major restrictions on all future attempts to regulate vulture funds at the Irish level. Our hands will be tied behind our backs. Unless new domestic laws comply with the EU Directive – which, let’s not forget, is designed to promote the sale of debt to vulture funds – the legislation will be struck down because it will amount to an infringement of the ‘right of establishment’ or ‘right to provide services’ of these private equity funds. 

 

“The Commission has clearly not taken consumer protection issues or fundamental rights into consideration when conducting its impact assessment for this proposed Directive. The Directive should be withdrawn, and I am investigating possibilities for legal action in this regard. The European Parliament must block this proposal from becoming law. 

 

“I will be organising an EU-wide campaign against this Directive in the coming months, together with other progressive forces and consumer protection organisations.” ENDS 

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has congratulated the organisers of the Science Festival on the launch of the 2019 programme.

The vice chair of the all-party group on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths said:

"This is the fifth year of the Science Festival which will take place this year from February 14th to 24th.

“I’d like to congratulate the organisers of the Science Festival which has gone from strength to strength over the past five years and is now an important event in the calendar; this year’s Festival will see 200 events take place across over 50 venues across the north.

“The Science Festival is a showcase of the cutting-edge science and innovation which is taking place here in the north and will feature debate, lectures, workshops and much more.

“There are opportunities to have hands-on experience of science in action and I’d encourage everyone to try to go along to one of the many events over the 11 days.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for international action in support of Kurdish politician Leyla Guven who is currently on hunger strike and is now in critical condition. 

Martina Anderson said: 

"Kurdish MP Leyla Guven has been on hunger strike in a Turkish prison against her unjust detention since November 8 and has now reached the stage where she is in a critical condition. 

"Scores of other Kurdish political prisoners held in Turkish jails have joined her hunger strike in solidarity calling for her release and for the release of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. 

"Human rights organisations, lawyers and campaigners across the world have called for her release. 

"Her condition is now deteriorating and it is imperative that the international community acts to save her life. 

"Sinn Féin have taken part in demonstrations across Ireland and elsewhere in support of Leyla Guven and more will be held in the coming days. 

"I would encourage as many people as possible to attend these solidarity events to send a clear message to the Turkish authorities, just as campaigners across the world stood with us during the hunger strikes in Long Kesh in 1981." 

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Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has described the Justice Minister's announcement that the CSO’s major survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland will not be completed until 2023 as "totally unacceptable".
 
The Dublin Central TD said:
 
“Last November I welcomed the Government’s decision to task the CSO with undertaking a major national sexual violence survey every ten years and acknowledged that the CSO is the state agency best placed to deliver this work.

"However the Minister’s announcement that the survey will not be completed until 2023 is absolutely unacceptable.
 
“Up to date data is vital to enable Government deliver the budgets and policies necessary to enable frontline organisations deliver services and supports to victims of domestic and gender based violence.

"The first SAVI report was published in 2002. This important research desperately needs to be updated and expanded upon. A loose deadline of 2023 for updated data is simply not good enough.
 
“The Justice Minister has also confirmed that a meagre €150,000 has been allocated to the CSO to progress this work in 2019.

"It remains my strong view that this critical work must be subsumed into the annual work of the CSO with the accompanying budgetary increase for the agency and removed from the political gift of the Minister of the day.”

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the Government’s ongoing refusal to address the recruitment & retention crisis in our health services has forced front line staff to engage in strike action, and that the psychiatric nurses set to strike deserve our support.

The comments come just days after the INMO announced that their 37,000 members are to also engage in strike action at the end of the month.

Speaking after the Psychiatric Nurses Association announced that their 6,000 members will be engaging in strike action due to staff shortages and pay issues, Deputy O’Reilly said;

“Strike action by psychiatric nurses comes as no surprise given the Minister for Health’s ongoing failure to address the recruitment & retention crisis facing frontline services.

“A strike is the last thing psychiatric nurses, or indeed any healthcare worker wants to have to undertake, however, they have been left with no alternative.

"Fine Gael have been in Government for almost 8 years, and despite every opportunity to address the nursing recruitment and retention crisis in the health service, they have completely failed as the situation deteriorated.

“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance must engage with union representatives if we are to see a meaningful, long-term solution to this issue.

“By failing to invest in our public services, Ministers Harris, Donohoe & Taoiseach Varadkar are normalising the crises faced by our frontline staff.

“Nurses and midwives deserve our support. We should support them in their demand for a better health service which recognises the high quality and value of their work.”

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Commenting after meeting with the Tánaiste in Belfast today, the Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill called on the Dublin Government to remain resolute in the face of mounting chaos in London.

Michelle O’Neill said: 

“Now more than ever, the Irish Government must stand firm to safeguard Ireland’s interests, the rights of citizens and to protect our agreements.

“A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for our economy and society.

“It would see us crashing out of the EU with no terms of departure, over an economic cliff-edge with supply shortages and many businesses unable to trade, job losses, possible recession, no access to the EU single market and a physical hard border being put in place in Ireland.

“The chaos engulfing the Westminster parliament and the British Government cannot be allowed to spill over into Ireland. The way to do that is to remain firm, along with the EU 27, in defending the backstop as our only insurance policy against a hard border in Ireland.

 “The DUP will continue to pursue their reckless Brexit agenda, bizarrely working against the interests  of their own electorate, of wider society and all the people of this island.

“However, the Withdrawal Agreement and the Backstop cannot, and will not, be rewritten, renegotiated or vetoed.”

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Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion met today with FAI Chief Executive John Delaney to discuss the potential for Derry and the north west to be involved in the bid to host the UEFA Under 21 Championships in 2023. 

The Foyle MP said: 

"I met with FAI chief executive John Delaney in Dublin today alongside my party colleagues Karen Mullan and Raymond McCartney to discuss the potential for Derry to be involved in the UEFA U21 Championships in 2023. 

"We agreed to continue to explore a range of possibilities on how Derry and the wider north west could be involved in the joint bid for Ireland to host the UEFA Under 21 Championships in 2023. 

"Today's meeting is part of our ongoing engagements with the FAI and IFA and those meetings will continue." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has congratulated schools taking part in this year’s BT Young Scientist Exhibition. 

Over 1000 young people took part in the four day event in Dublin’s RDS. Speaking after attending the Exhibition, the party’s Education spokesperson commented:

“I want to warmly congratulate all of the students and schools who have taken part in the 2019 Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin.

“The Exhibition is an excellent event at which students from across the island of Ireland, north and south, showcase their impressive research projects. 

“There are many important projects on display highlighting global issues such as tackling climate change and protecting the environment. 

"Getting young people to interact with science and technology helps make science relevant and fun as young people learn through investigation and exploration into their surroundings. 

“I want to particularly send my congratulations to St. Mary’s College from Derry who had a number of fantastic and innovative projects on display at the Exhibition. 

“All of the students, teachers and schools who have taken part are to be highly commended for the hard work and effort they have put into the event, and for the enthusiasm they put in to their individual research projects.”

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Sinn Féin representatives Conor Murphy MLA and Dawn Doyle, General Secretary, have travelled to Venezuela to attend the Presidential inauguration of Nicolás Maduro Moros at the invitation of the Venezuelan Government in Caracas on 10 January 2019. 

The Sinn Féin representatives will be part of an international delegation of progressive political forces expressing their solidarity to the people of Venezuela.

Conor Murphy said:

"Nicolás Maduro Moros was democratically elected by the Venezuelan people to serve as their President during the term 2019 - 2025. This is a particularly difficult and challenging period for the citizens of Venezuela. 

"We will use our presence in Venezuela to express our continuing solidarity to the people supporting their legitimate demands to build a just and equal society free from foreign intervention.

"We will also take the opportunity of meeting with many of the other international guests and media to provide an update on the current situation in Ireland, discussing the negative impact of Brexit for all the Irish people and our on-going campaign for national reunification." 

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Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said that advocates of a no-deal Brexit should be left to staff petrol pumps and explain the disaster of a no-deal Brexit. 

Chris Hazzard was responding to a letter seeking civil service volunteers to manage fuel distribution at filling stations in the event of a serious fuel shortage in the face of a no-deal Brexit.

Chris Hazzard said: 

"Civil servants have received letters asking them to volunteer to act as fuel monitors as part of contingency planning for an emergency fuel shortage. 

"Workers are being asked to police the supply of fuel in the event of a chronic shortage. 

"In the event of serious fuel shortages after a no deal Brexit scenes at filling stations could become fraught and tense and it should not be left to volunteer civil servants to police such situations. 

"The advocates of a no-deal Brexit should be left to staff the pumps and explain the disaster of a no-deal Brexit.”

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Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has welcomed news that illegal drugs worth almost £1 million have been seized in Belfast. 

The West Belfast MP said: 

"News that almost £1 million of illegal drugs were seized by the PSNI in a number of searches across Belfast is to be welcomed. 

"Drugs cause misery in our communities and have blighted many lives. 

"The fact that these drugs will not find their way into the illegal supply chain is good news. 

"I would encourage anyone with information on the supply of illegal drugs to bring it forward to the PSNI." 

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Sinn Féin will this weekend host an event in Dublin to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the First Dáil Éireann.

The event will take place in the Mansion House on Dawson Street this Saturday, 12th January 2019. There will be an exhibition from 11:30am followed by the main event at 2pm which will include an address by Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Heritage and Culture Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said it is important that we recognise the inaugural meeting of the First Dáil Éireann which took place in the Mansion House on January 21st 1919.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“The meeting of the First Dáil Eireann was an unequivocal act of national self-determination. This followed the landslide election victory for Sinn Féin in 1918, which was an overwhelming endorsement of the desire for an independent and united Ireland.

“The Irish Republic established here 100 years ago was based on the proposition that the people are sovereign and that the public right and welfare comes before the interests of private profit and property. Never was that principle of the Democratic Programme needed more than it is now.”

This event is open to the public and entry will be permitted on a first come first served basis. Venue holds 550 people. Doors open from 11:30am.

ENDS

Editor’s note:

Media registration is required
 for the event, so if you wish to attend please send an email to [email protected] before Saturday 12th January.

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Sinn Féin MLA Sinéad Ennis has welcomed news that RTÉ and Eir Sport will broadcast national league, hurling and club championship matches across both channels for the next three years.

The South Down MLA said:

“I welcome news that RTÉ and Eir Sport will increase their coverage of Gaelic Games - including national league, hurling and club championships - for the next three years. 

“This is a significant investment and timely given the large boost in participation in GAA over recent years, particularly in the north. 

“However, this also exposes BBC’s stark lack of coverage and continued neglect of the largest spectator and participatory sport in the north. 

“Clearly the needs of the GAA community - who are also BBC licence payers - are not as important as those who wish to watch soccer, motorsports, rugby, American football, snooker or darts.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Director General of BBC and would encourage others to make their viewers known by contacting [email protected].” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said it is hypocritical of the DUP to talk about reflecting the views of the people of the north while supporting the Tory Brexit agenda which was rejected here and will strip people of their voice in Europe. 

Martina Anderson said: 

"Clearly Dianne Dodds and the DUP don't know the meaning of irony if they are suddenly concerned about ensuring the people of the north have representation while at the same time backing the Tory Brexit agenda which will deny people a voice. 

"The DUP acted as cheerleaders for Brexit knowing that it will lead to the people of the north losing their voice in the European Parliament. 

"The DUP also seem to forget the fact that the people of the north have had their say on Brexit and voted to reject it. 

"It is Dianne and the DUP who have been ignoring that democratic vote. If they think supporting Brexit is acting in the best interests then they need to take a reality check.

"Since the referendum, Sinn Féin has been engaging with the key players in the Brexit negotiations in Brussels as well as in London and Dublin. 

"We have been reflecting the views of the people of the north and making the case that Brexit cannot be allowed to undermine the Good Friday Agreement or lead to any hardening of the border on the island of Ireland. 

"It would be better for Dianne Dodds to join us in acting in the best interests of the people of the north rather than blindly following Tories who neither know nor care about the impact of Brexit here." 

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