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Latest Statements

Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin South Dublin County Cllr Sarah Holland has condemned what she describes as “scheming against the provision of social housing in the Knocklyon and Firhouse areas”.

Following the tense exchanges during the planning process for the Clonburris development, a series of residents’ associations have begun campaigning against the provision of social housing.

Cllr Holland said:

“I submitted some questions to area committee last month which show just 41 houses being provided in Rathfarnham or Terenure/Templeogue through PART V or council properties, with nearly 9,000 on the list for the South Dublin County area.

“During the SDZ process, it became apparent that a bloc of councillors was conspiring to limit the provision of social housing.  This has now spread from the Clonburris planning process to the Rathfarnham and Terenure/Templeogue areas.

“It is blatant NIMBYism.  Scaremongering over social housing is a cynical move in the run up to the local elections in 2019.

“The fact is that we need housing.  It should be spread all over this county in sustainable, mixed tenure developments, and not crowded into urban centres.

“Councillors have a duty of care to all residents of this county, and cynical scaremongering is irresponsible.”

Cllr Holland also took care to point out that transport and traffic concerns have been at the forefront the issues raised at council, and that the Rathfarnham and Terenure/Templeogue areas were rich in amenity and green space:

“Most councillors have been active in calling for additional public transport, infrastructure and improvements, play spaces and amenity improvements.  Others have been cynically objecting to playgrounds, park benches and housing in a bid to curry favour with the NIMBY brigade.

“As elected representatives, we need to show leadership. We need to be clear to residents what the needs of the people of this county are and how these can be achieved.  Whipping up hysteria over housing or amenities is not sustainable in the long term.” 

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Sinn Féin's Equality Spokesperson, Megan Fearon MLA, has said that relationship and sexuality education must be reformed to ensure it is effective and relevant.

The Newry & Armagh MLA was speaking following an event organised by the Family Planning Association to launch sexual health awareness week.

Megan Fearon MLA said:

"Relationship and sexuality education must be reformed to ensure that information given to young people is effective in encouraging healthy and consensual relationships.

"A stigma exists in our society, not only around discussing safe and healthy relationships, but also about the issues concerning LGBTQ citizens and those with disabilities.

"Relationship and sexuality education must be reviewed and standardised for all young people. It must be focused on creating an environment of openness, safety and consent." 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the decision of the European Committee on Social Rights to uphold the rights of Irish Defence Forces to engage in collective bargaining and to have trade union recognition.

Speaking today, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“I welcome the decision by the European Committee on Social Rights to uphold the complaint made by PDFORRA under Articles 5 and 6 of the European Social Charter in 2014.

“Of course, it is a damning indictment that PDFORRA was forced to take this action in order to have their basic rights recognised and vindicated.

“Furthermore, this Government fought every step of the way in an attempt to thwart the members of the defence forces in achieving this recognition.

“The conclusion from the European Committee on Social Rights clearly demonstrates that the exclusion of defence forces from public service agreements cannot continue and that members of the defence forces have a right to engage in collective bargaining and to have trade union recognition.

“Sinn Féin has published legislation that would give effect to this right and has consistently called for the Government to provide for the collective bargaining rights of Gardaí and Defence Forces.

“I am calling on the Irish Government to accept and fully implement the findings of the European Committee on Social Rights on this matter and to allow representatives of the Defence Forces to fully participate in negotiations affecting pay and working conditions.” 

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Sinn Féin are calling on pubic bodies to take a more robust approach to the implementation of equality laws, the party's equality spokesperson Megan Fearon has said.

Speaking after Sinn Féin submitted a response to the Equality Commission's consultation on Section 75 Statutory Equality and Good Relations Duties, the Newry Armagh MLA commented:

“There needs to be stronger political coherence, leadership and sustained commitment in order to effectively address equality outcomes. 

“Sinn Féin welcome the recommendations and proposed actions outlined in the report and the commitment from the Equality Commission to review the use their investigations powers.

“We have significant concerns regarding the Equality Commission’s indication that Section 75 Duties are not being effectively implemented by public authorities and believe that the Commission must addresses issues of non-compliance.

“Sinn Fein recommend that the Equality Commission collect and report statistics relating to screening and Equality Impact Assessments undertaken by public authorities and that they issue guidance in order to ensure a standardised approach to equality screening exercises carried out by public authorities.

“Sinn Féin recommend that the Equality Commission produce guidance and direction which clearly clarifies the steps required from public authorities to fully comply with Section 75. 

“The Equality Commission should adopt a renewed approach to equality enforcement and enhance their enforcement powers. 

“Sinn Féin welcome the direction from the Commission that Public authorities must have arrangements in their Equality Schemes to publish information, including the results of their assessments of the likely impact of policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity.

“It is Sinn Féin’s position that the focus upon public authorities, in relation to the implementation of the Section 75 duties, should shift from the processes contained within an Equality Scheme towards impacts and better outcomes and we would recommend that the Equality Commission issue clear guidance regarding due regard and the duty which this places upon public authorities. 

“We believe that a standard protocol for the collection, maintenance and analysis of data should be implemented across the public sector.

“The Equality Commission should adopt a proactive approach to data collection data monitoring across equality groups and provides guidance to public authorities on the collection and analysis of data required in Screening and Equality Impact Assessments."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the Irish government should work to protect the economy north and south by helping secure special status for the north within the EU. 

Martina Anderson said: 

"Yet again we have another expert report outlining the disastrous impact Brexit will have on our economy. 

"This latest report, from Copenhagen Economics, found that Brexit has the potential to turn back the Irish economy to the economic crash of 2007-8 and a seven per cent reduction in the economy by 2030. 

"This, following on from the British government's own report which showed that Brexit will be bad for the economy in the north, regardless of whatever outcome is reached in the negotiations. 

"The Taoiseach and the Irish government should take heed of these reports and work to ensure the economy, north and south, is protected through the north remaining in the single market and customs union. 

"The best way to do this is for the Irish government to join with us to secure special status for the north within the EU." 

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Sinn Féin is to launch a document in Dundalk on Tuesday, 13th February outlining how a United Ireland would benefit Irish enterprise and businesses across the island.

 

Matt Carthy MEP will host the launch which will be addressed by Sinn Fein's Enterprise Spokespersons Maurice Quinlivan TD and Conor Murphy MLA.

 

Speaking in advance of the launch Matt Carthy said:

 

“A united Ireland will benefit all the people of this island including, very importantly, in economic terms.

 

“Partition has been an economic disaster for Ireland, North and South. Economy and society across the island of Ireland are intertwined. Back-to-back development and wasteful duplication serve nobody, in either jurisdiction.

 

“Brexit has merely served to highlight these issues. The Good Friday and subsequent agreements have ensured that all-Ireland co-operation has benefitted people across Ireland. We cannot allow this to be threatened.

 

“Sinn Féin’s document, A United Ireland  Better for Jobs, Enterprise and Research, will show how Irish unity would unlock the real economic potential of this island acting as a huge spur for economic growth leading to more jobs and an improvement in living standards.

 

“Research has repeatedly demonstrated that in terms of synergies, economies of scale and infrastructural development, a united Ireland makes economic sense. There are simply no advantages for an island nation of 6.4 million inhabitants having two separate tax regimes, legal systems, and competing economic development programmes.

 

“The recently-published and peer-reviewed Modelling Irish Unification study by Professor Kurt Huebner of Vancouver University (2015) illustrated that the total combined Irish economy would perform better than the two separate economies, North and South, and could generate up to €35 billion in economic returns for Ireland based on the study’s models.

 

“Unity would deliver sustainable economic growth and employment throughout the island. It would particularly benefit areas along the Border which have suffered as a result of Partition.

 

“It would create a level playing field for trade which would not be dependent on the whim of currency exchanges or taxation differences on the same island.

 

“Full economic integration would allow for fair and progressive taxation, regulation and trade. It would provide the tools for growth, employment and a better business climate across the island.

A united Ireland would bring economic stability and create an environment in which business can thrive.”

 

The launch of the Sinn Féin document A United Ireland  Better for Jobs, Enterprise and Research, will take place at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Dundalk at 10am on 13 January. All media are welcome.

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy told delegates to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis on Saturday that those in political and media circles who questioned why Mary Lou McDonald’s election as Sinn  Féin President was unanimous, they continued to fawn over a Taoiseach who 65% of his own party members voted against.

Republicans had made huge progress because they had dared to dream and had followed through with strategy, determination and grit. Although a United Ireland had yet to be realised, Sinn Féin, organised across 32 counties was determined to see it realised and much off this was down to the vision and determination of outgoing party President Gerry Adams.

He said the party under the leadership of Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill would realise the aspirations of all those republicans who had gone before them.

Matt Carthy said:

"Imagine being in a party where the leader is elected with the support of just 35% of it’s members. Or imagine being in a party like Fianna Fáil where ordinary members had no say whatsoever and who ended up with Mícheal Martin as leader after he secured 33 votes. Imagine being in the Labour party – Actually, I’m going to stop now.

"But, sometimes it’s good to imagine – to have a dream, a vision. We have reached the point we are at today because of the dreams of others.

"The dreams of those over a hundred years ago that dreamt that women would not only secure the right to vote but would win full equality. The dreams of those who rose up in 1798 in the belief that one day the denominations of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter would be replaced by the common bond of being Irish.

"Of those who marched out on Easter Monday 1916 with the dream of a nation where the ownership of Ireland belonged to the people of Ireland, with a vision of a country where the Irish people were sovereign and indefeasible.

"Or the dreams of those who lay naked in H-Block cells embarking on a hunger strike who dreamt of the laughter of our children and of an Ireland united in peace.

"All of these dreams, of course, remain unrealised, but huge progress has been made because of the dreamers behind them and because they followed through on their dreams with strategy, determination and grit. And, when their dreams were slipping away, were being taken away, they resisted.  We’re here because they dared to image and because they believed.

"Thanks to the dreamers, who were also strategic believers, we have come this far.

"Women don’t have full equality yet, but there is a progressive party that is about to be led by two woman who will make it happen. We don’t have a United Ireland yet, but we have a republican party that is organised across all of Ireland’s 32 counties determined to see it realised – a party with twenty three TDs, six Senators, twenty seven MLAs, seven MPs, four MEPs, over 200 Councillors and more than 12,000 members – each as committed as the next to deliver the Republic.

"Who could have imagined it? Well, Gerry Adams for one. So let’s keep on dreaming.  Because the risen people insist on it.

"Dream of the Republic. Dream of an Ireland where it doesn’t matter what church you attend. Dream of a country where all citizens can have a place to call home. That when you need healthcare it doesn’t matter where you live or how much money is in your pocket. Dream of a country where the interests of Irish families and communities are prioritised above the desires of bankers and speculators and vulture funds.

"Keep on dreaming – and remember the words of the great Pádraig Mac Piarais when he asked wise men to riddle him this – what if the dream come through?

"What IF the dream come through? Because the republic will be realised.  And, at that point someone will undoubtedly ask – who could have imagined it. Our response – Marylou McDonald. Michelle O’Neill. Thousands of Sinn Féin members gathered in the city that fought an empire on the 10th February 2018.

"A chairde, it’s time to elect our new leadership with every expectation that they will realise the dreams of the giants on whose shoulders we stand, the dreams of those of us in this hall and the 500,000 (and counting) people who support our party, the dreams of the risen people across every corner of our land.

"Let’s start the next chapter. Keep dreaming,

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Sinn Féin MLA Orlaithi Flynn has called on the Public Health Agency to provide assurances over the future of the Lifeline crisis service.

The West Belfast MLA was speaking after meeting with the PHA to discuss its controversial plan to outsource the 24-hour Lifeline telephone and follow-up counselling service.

“Sinn Féin sought and secured an urgent meeting with the PHA after concerns were raised regarding the new Lifeline contract and service,” she commented.

“I also raised concerns on the proposed new model and will continue to do so until we are satisfied that the same standards and provision of service are maintained.

“Lifeline is an important support and resource for those experiencing a crisis. The public and service users need to be assured that any new arrangements, or the expected appointment of an interim service provider maintain the best services and outcomes for service users.

“To be clear, Lifeline is still operating and is still an extremely valuable service for anyone in crisis. It is always good to talk and trained staff continue to be at hand to support anyone in need.”

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson, Deputy Louise O’Reilly, has said that a HSE review into the use of foetal monitors, which were recalled in 2009 due to inaccurate readings, is 'extremely worrying'. 

Teachta O’Reilly said: 

“Today’s report that the HSE is to review safety concerns relating to the use of certain foetal monitors in Irish maternity hospitals is extremely worrying. 

“The foetal monitoring devices in question were recalled in 2009 due to a high volume of complaints that certain models of the foetal monitoring machine were taking inaccurate readings.

“Philips who manufactured the foetal monitors issued a product recall in 2009 warning that of non-implementation of corrective action could cause injury or death to mothers and babies. 

“The recall was sent to 11 Irish hospitals but the HSE is now investigating of appropriate action was taken in response to the recall, and if these models are still in use in some hospitals.

“Even more worrying was that the recall was also sent to the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, which featured as part of an RTÉ investigation in 2014 concerning the deaths of five babies.  

“It is hard to understate the seriousness of this issue, it is incredibly worrying and leaves serious questions to be asked about maternal care in Irish hospitals past and present. 

“The situation also raises deeper questions about how women are treated in our health service.

“Last July I submitted a number of Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Health asking questions from how many ultrasound machines we had in our hospitals, how many ultra-sonographers there was, the age profile of every ultrasound machine our hospitals, and various other questions relating to maternity care. 

“For nearly every question I asked the reply came:

“On behalf of the National Clinical Programme for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division and the Acute Hospitals Division, we regret to inform you that the information being sought is unavailable at National level”.

“This cavalier attitude at a national level to women’s health is extremely concerning. 

“This review into these foetal monitors is extremely necessary, but the HSE and those responsible for the safety of women and babies have serious questions to answer over how women’s health is being failed time and time again.  

“On behalf of the National Clinical Programme for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division and the Acute Hospitals Division, we regret to inform you that the information being sought is unavailable at National level.”

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Introduction – acceptance and thanks

A chairde, Is onóir é bheith tofa mar Uachtarán Shinn Féin.  Go raibh míle maith agaibh as bhur dtacaíocht.  Go raibh maith agaibh as bhur muinín ionam.

I am honoured to be elected as Uachtarán Shinn Féin.

Friends thank you for your support, your friendship and your confidence in me.  In truth I couldn’t take this challenge on were it not for the constant support of my family.

My husband Martin, my children Iseult and Gearoid are forever patient, my mother Joan, my brothers, my sister and  my wider family all precious people in my life.  Thank you all.

Thank you members of Sinn Féin for the privilege of leading our great party into the future.

The time ahead is full of challenges.

The journey may be tough.

The road long.

The stakes high.

But we are up to it.

Our time has come.

Today we recall all those who have struggled for Irish freedom in every generation.

The women and men who stood for the Republican cause through hard times, through times of war, through poverty and discrimination.

As a woman now charged with leading Irish Republicanism forward, I am conscious that I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Constance Markievicz, the most unmanageable of revolutionaries.

A woman who came from privilege but who lived and worked to end British rule in Ireland;

Who stood by the poor.

The first woman elected to Westminster – an abstentionist Sinn Féin MP.

We have her successor abstentionist Sinn Féin MPs in the hall with us today!

Margaret Buckley, the first female leader of any Irish political party, President of Sinn Féin from 1937 to 1950.

Through the Easter Rising, The Tan War and later on hunger strike, Margaret fought for the republic until her death in 1962.

Máire Drumm, former Leas Uachtarán of Sinn Féin.  

A woman of fierce courage.

A maker of seditious speeches, a camóg, a leader of women, who with prams full of bread and milk, faced down British troopers and broke the Falls curfew.

We are proud to walk in the pathway carved out by so many Republican heroes – women and men.

The rebel Irish who never bowed down, who never gave up.

They kept faith.

We will keep faith with them.

To those who have stood in solidarity with us down the generations, our gallant allies in Europe and beyond, our exiled children in America, we thank you.

Stay with us as we move to the next phase of our journey.

Historical context

A hundred years ago was a time of great change.

It was the year which saw Sinn Féin win seventy-three seats in a General Election; a result which in turn led to the establishment of An Céad Dáil –  a truly National Parliament.

It was also the year of women's suffrage.

Fifty years ago, the demand for civil rights spilled onto the streets of the North in defiance of the gerrymandered sectarian state.

Twenty years ago, the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

A peaceful pathway to unity was achieved.

The Orange state was replaced by a dispensation of equality, rights and power-sharing.

And every community is the better for it.

Gerry Adams

There would be no Good Friday Agreement, no peace process without.

Gerry Adams.

My political mentor.

An inspirational leader.

A great friend.

Gerry Adams, more than anybody else, built Sinn Féin.

His leadership has guided our party to its strongest position since partition.

He has defined politics on this island for a generation or more.

When others said it was impossible, Gerry, along with Martin McGuinness,

John Hume and indeed others, bravely walked the path to peace.

Their vision and hard work brought an end to conflict on this island.

Gerry, thank you for leading.

Heartfelt thanks to Collette, to Gearóid, Róisín, Dríthla, Luisne, Ana and Ruadhan.

Thank you for sharing Gerry with us.

New Leadership

Now as a new generation takes the reins of leadership, our job is to bring innovative and modern ways of advancing our politics.

Now is a time for fresh thinking and bold ideas to take us forward.

Now is the time for new leadership.

I am ready to lead.

Shoulder to shoulder with our Leas Uachtaráin Michelle O’Neill, we will lead from the front, with determination and courage.

Raised on songs and stories, I am a proud Dubliner.

I am a mother.

I want what every parent wants – for our children to be happy, to fulfil their dreams and potential, to never be held back by inequality, disadvantage or discrimination.

To live in an Ireland that creates opportunities for all and not just for the few.

I believe in getting things done.

If something is broken you roll up your sleeves and you fix it.

I believe in reaching out.

I believe in standing my ground too.

 We must strive to see things from the perspective of others, to walk in their shoes and to reach a deeper understanding of their position.

We must also be true to our beliefs, our experiences, our promises.

I believe if something is worth having then it is worth working for.

I believe in community, that we should look after one another and be the helping hand when someone falls.

I firmly believe that "it takes the village to raise the child."

And that this is the foundation of the new Ireland we will build.

I believe in fair play, in compassion and that despite our differences we are all equal.

I believe in the unity of our nation in all its colours

and the unity of all our people.

I believe in our freedom.

Beidh muid saor a chairde.

The future of Sinn Féin

Be in no doubt that Sinn Féin is the only party that will build a United Ireland and a real republic.

Our party is on the side of the ordinary people.

Sinn Féin is a grassroots party.

It is our membership that defines and sustains us.

It is our membership that will keep this party moving forward.

Our responsibility now is to adapt and modernise our approaches and our structures.

Sinn Féin has grown rapidly in recent years.

We want to double the size of our party again, in the years ahead.

Ireland is no longer simply orange and green.

We are a rainbow of colours.

So the party we build must be reflective of the society we live in.

This will mean changes in how we operate.

We must be open, flexible and enthusiastic in creating  space for newer members and for the sharing of new ideas.

We must be ambitious.

Remember this – we have come together to make history, to change the course of Irish history.

We share a common bond of our republican ideals.

Respect, equality and inclusion are the watchwords of our party.

So our focus must be on building Sinn Féin into an organisation that is fit for purpose.

And our purpose is to win.

To win elections,

to increase our political strength,

to realise our ambition of being in government, north and south.

To win progressive political victories every, single day.

And ultimately to win Irish Unity.

We must dare to win,

for low and middle income workers, and their families.

To win a society in which young people can plan a future.

To win a new Ireland in which nobody is left behind.

These are the victories we seek.

Prosperity

Caithfimid Éire rathúil a chruthú.  Éire le fíor-dheiseanna.

We must build a prosperous, united Ireland.

An Ireland in which people have decent work, fair pay and secure contracts.

An Ireland in which young couples can afford a roof over their heads

and in which no child calls a hotel room home.

To those for whom prosperity is a far off pipe dream.

To those who struggle no matter how early they get up, how hard they try, no matter how hard they work;

I want to say directly that Sinn Féin sees you.

Sinn Féin hears you.

Sinn Féin will fight your corner.

Because we do not subscribe to the false notion that for one section of society to prosper another section must suffer.

Real prosperity is shared.

A prosperous society is an equal society.

A prosperous society funds and resources public services, provides healthcare on the basis of need and equal educational opportunities for all.

Prosperous economies are built on decent jobs driven by a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Prosperous economies encourage ambition, applaud achievement and reward hard work.

Prosperity is supported by fair, progressive taxation and the fair distribution of wealth.

Real prosperity is felt, is lived by people in their daily lives.

It is time for families, for young people, for citizens with disabilities and for carers, to prosper.

It is time for Rural Ireland to prosper.

It is time for the working people to prosper.

Brexit

Brexit represents a real threat to our prosperity,

to the economic, social and political life of Ireland.

It fundamentally challenges twenty years of hard won progress.

Is oileán amháin muid.  Tír amháin.

Ní ghlacaimid le teorainn mar atá, agus ní ghlacfaimid le aon teorainn nua –

bog nó crua.

We are one island.  One Ireland.

We cannot thrive and prosper if the life and livelihoods of our people are fractured and disrupted by a border of any kind – hard or soft.

There can be no imposition of a border on the island of Ireland, that message must sound loud and clear from our Ard Fheis today.

Ireland will not be the collateral damage in the political games and antics of Tories in London.

EU Reform

The European project has the potential to transform the lives of citizens for the better

but it can only do so if the social agenda becomes its driving force.

A union that aggressively pursues unfettered competition, privatization, militarization is not one that has social progress at its core.

A union that does not respect national democracy, sovereignty, the equality of member states is not one that has people at its core.

There is much to challenge, much to change. 

We are up for that fight because

Ireland is an ancient European nation

and we will not concede the European project to free marketeers and corporate interests

no more than we would concede our future to Brexiteers and little Englanders.

International Solidarity

As Republicans we must be outward looking, beyond our own shores acting in solidarity with others who suffer injustice.

We stand with the people of Palestine.

We call for the Irish government to stop the delaying tactics and recognise the state of Palestine.

We stand with Catalonia and Euskadi, with all people who seek  self-determination.

Climate Change

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing the global community is climate change.

This is no longer a story of floods and catastrophe in faraway lands.

Climate change is with us.  

We need to plan, to act, to set targets and meet targets.

This area of policy and activism must be at the heart of Sinn Féin work in the time ahead.

Irish Language

Tá an Ghaeilge freisin thar a bheith tábhachtach dár bpáirtí agus is gné ríthábhachtach in obair ár bpáirtí í.

Ní hé sin le rá go ndéanaimid go leor de – ní mór dúinn.

Ní hé le rá nach féidir linn níos mó a dhéanamh – is féidir linn i gcónaí.

Agus ní hé le rá go bhfuil na freagraí uilig againn – níl.

Ach táimid tiomanta don dúshlán a thug an pobal dúinn anuraidh a shárú –

sin chun Acht na Gaeilge a bhaint amach.

The North

Sinn Féin entered and operated the institutions in the north because

they are in the best interest of our people.

Martin McGuinness led the Executive with courage and with patience.

He resigned because those institutions were undermined by disrespect and tainted by scandal.

But let me be clear.

Sinn Féin is up for a deal.

We are committed to real power-sharing;

to working for agreement with our Unionist partners.

We want the Executive and Assembly up and running.

This can only happen on the basis of equality, respect and integrity for all.

We need to respond to the big changes in society.

This is not about orange and green.

This is all about rights.

As Michelle O’Neill said, ‘what we win in these talks, we win for all’.

The rights we secure now, we secure for everybody.

The talks are ongoing.

The Sinn Féin team is committed to a positive outcome.

As Uachtarán Shinn Féin, I look forward to working with the DUP and with the other parties in the North.

Martin McGuinness said there would be no return to the status quo.

Martin, there will be no return to the status quo.

Irish Unity and Reconciliation

Belief in the Union with Britain is a core part of the tradition and identity of a substantial section of our people.

We respect that.

We are United Irelanders.

We want to secure and win a referendum on Irish Unity.

I want us to achieve this with respect, graciousness and generosity.

Irish Unity cannot be a crude exercise of simply stitching north to south and returning to business as usual.

We do not want a 32 county free state.

We want a new Ireland, in which rights are guaranteed, cultures respected, and the diversity of our identities embraced.

I want to build on the work of Martin McGuinness.

For us to reach out the hand of friendship, to find common ground.

But we cannot do this on our own.

We need partners for reconciliation.

The governments and the other parties must demonstrate leadership.

Community leaders and civic society must be empowered to play their part.

We cannot allow those who want to use the past to maintain division and inequality to have their way.

There is no value in re-fighting the battles of the past.

The war is over.

There is no value in engaging in the blame game.

We do not have to agree on the past.

There is no single historical narrative.

We must only agree that the past is never again repeated.

On other things we can agree to disagree.

The poet Maya Angelou put it well; “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

Nobody should be asked or expected to forget.

Nobody should be asked to forgive if they cannot do so.

Every victim, every survivor of the conflict must be must be treated with respect, with compassion, with a recognition of their right to seek truth and justice.

Last November, at the invitation of the British Legion, I attended the Annual Remembrance Sunday Service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

I was taken by the sincerity and the warmth of the welcome I received as they gathered to remember their dead.

Everybody has that right - to remember their dead with dignity.

We republicans have that right.

We honour our dead with pride, with dignity, marking their sacrifice, lamenting their loss, embracing their families.

 I will continue to remember our patriot dead whether it is at Bodenstown, Arbour Hill or Milltown Cemetery.

And friends, I respect the right of those from other traditions, with a different historical narrative, to do likewise.

Repeal the 8th

A chairde,

Soon we face into a campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The referendum debate is about public health, women’s health and our right to decide on these matters for ourselves.

I trust women.

The referendum provides us with an historic opportunity to finally ensure that compassion and trust in women prevails.

Sinn Féin will campaign enthusiastically for repeal.

We will be on the streets.

We will be knocking on doors.

We will be on the airwaves vigorously arguing our case for repeal.

Some people will not share our analysis.

I respect their right to hold that view.

Some of those will be republicans, friends and family.

However despite differing views, I believe that the referendum debate can be handled with respect and sincerity.

For too long women have been let down.

This cannot continue.

We cannot tolerate it.

Dár máithreacha, Dár n-deirfiúracha, Dár n-iníonacha, Aisghair an t-ochtú leasú!

Conclusion

So friends, we have work to do.

The task of transforming Ireland continues.

Nobody said it would be easy.

But republicans face the big challenges and we meet them head on.

A new chapter on the road to the republic has begun.

We all have a part to play in writing it.

How the chapter unfolds is up to everybody here.

We are the generation of republicans who will see the rising of the moon.

Sinn Féin in government both North and South.

Irish Unity in our time.

Éire Aontáithe.

And the establishment of a real republic of which Tone and Markievicz, Connolly and Skinnider, Sands and McGuinness would be proud.

Let’s get to work.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile!

Up the Republic!

ENDS

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INTRODUCTION

A Chairde agus comradaithe – delegates, comrades, friends.

Ba mhaith liom failte a chuir romhaibh go dtí a comhdháil speisialta seo.

Welcome each and everyone of you to this historic special Ard Fhéis.

I want to thank you all for your support and the vote of confidence you have given me as your new Leas Uachtarán Shinn Féin.

As you will know I am from the wonderful county of Tyrone, but most won’t know that I also herald from cork, being born on Fermoy. So my colours are truly red and white. I’m claiming those two counties right out, but I’m going to be champion for the 32

It is a huge honour and it’s very humbling for me to be elected, by you - our national grassroots membership - to this role, within this great party.

I’m proud to be a link in the unbroken chain of Irish republicanism.

To follow others who have held this role like Margaret Buckley, Marie Drumm, my amazing election agent Pat Doherty and our soon to be new Uachtaran Mary Lou.

The chain will never be broken.

Sinn Féin is a growing political force – a national movement for reunification, for social justice and for economic prosperity.

We stand for progressive republican politics.

We are a party of Government North and South. 

We believe that citizens have fundamental rights and that Government has a responsibility to deliver for all –

• The right to a home

• The right to decent healthcare

• The right to education;

• The right to security;

• The right to equality no matter who you are, where you are born, what your background is, what your beliefs are or what your sexuality is.

• The right of people with a disability to play a full and independent role in all aspects of life;

• The right of young people to live and work in their own country;

• The right of Irish language speakers to use the language in every aspect of their daily lives; Act Anois

• And the right of women to be trusted and respected in a modern society – so we not only support the repeal of the 8th amendment – we need to campaign in order to win the upcoming referendum.

POLITICAL TALKS

The Good Friday Agreement will be 20 years old in April.

Over the past two decades the island of Ireland has been transformed as a result of the peace process.

I want to put on record my personal thanks and our collective thanks to our outgoing President Gerry Adams, who alongside my friend, my comrade Martin McGuiness, two political giants – true Irish patriots –helped shape and win the peace.

They have been the history makers.

And the greatest Irish political leaders of our time.

Míle buíochas Gerry.

I also want to say a big Thank you to Collette and Bernie as they also have contributed so much to our struggle, you too have made the commitment and sacrifice down through the years.

It has been a difficult and testing year since Martin’s tragic loss.

Martin resigned last January to force an end to the abuse of our political process by the DUP and British Government.

My focus for the last 12 months and the objective of our negotiating team has been to see the political institutions re-established with power-sharing, respect and equality at their core.

As in any negotiation there has been give and take and at this point we have not yet resolved or over-come all our differences to satisfaction.

There is no doubt that Progress has been made, but there are outstanding issues which remain unresolved.

We will continue to meet with the DUP and both Governments and will re-engage on Monday and I anticipate that Talks will conclude next week.

I believe that the issues which caused the collapse of Stormont can be resolved with political will and mutual respect.

Issues like marriage equality, an Irish language act, legacy inquests, rights, respect and integrity in government should not be politically contentious,

A restored Executive with genuine power-sharing at its heart and acting in the interests of all people.

It can help ensure the needs of our citizens, both unionist and nationalist, the economy and our public services are protected.

That is in the best interests of all people and what we are determined to achieve.

NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

A critical part of our work involves reconciliation.

It is necessary work as we build for the future.

I am very mindful that there are many people herewith us today that have lost loved ones throughout the conflict. Can I say that we are so very honoured and proud to have you with us at our Ard Fheis.

I know that you understand the Importance of reconciliation. And Part of reconciliation involves recognising everyone’s right to remember their dead.

One mummy’s pain is no different to another’s.

We need to recognise the hurt that was caused in the past, we need to help heal the pain of the past.

I am committed to this work.

Our party is committed to this work.

But what’s required is a unionist partner to help lead this crucial effort together.

We need to transcend old battles, and give all our people an opportunity to look again at a future beyond sectarianism, division and suspicion, without demanding the surrender of each others identity, citizenship or rights.

IRISH UNITY

A unity referendum is a central part of the Good Friday Agreement.

We have to build a mass movement and build momentum for Irish unity – uniting Orange and Green.

We must campaign for a referendum, secure a referendum and win a referendum.

We must show serious ambition and confidence and take nothing for granted.

We don’t want to face inwards.

We must face outwards and listen who those who don’t want a united Ireland.

It is our task to persuade those people, sectors and communities of why it’s in their best economic and political interests to share power across this island.

We must convince them that no one has anything to fear because we will shape and we will build the future together.

CONCLUSION

I look forward to getting out around the country in the coming weeks and months as we begin to roll out our national 10 year plan.

Political organising and campaigning has been the bread and butter of Sinn Fein since our inception in 1905.

With an increasing membership we need to be welcoming, inviting and build our capacity, train our activists politically to make an impact and to make a difference.

There is a place for everyone in Sinn Féin.

We are so fortunate that we have strong local and national cohesion and comradeship, often to the envy of the other parties across Ireland.

We need to create more space for political analysis, discussion, debate and ideas.

As the party leadership transition moves ahead after today’s historic Ard Fhéis;

I look forward to our onward journey and to leading our party alongside Marylou and our national leadership team.

And most of all with each and everyone of you.

Let’s commit ourselves to building better National cohesion of our party;

To defending the integrity of our struggle;

To learn together;

To struggle together;

and always be in the frontline of more radical change by putting the people and communities we serve first,

By always acting in the best interests of the Republic we strive to deliver.

Comrades we are on the cusp of that Irish Republic. Let’s go out and grab it.

It’s a time for confidence, being rooted, for being relevant, for being revolutionary and most of all for being republican.

Beirgí bua.

Míle buíochas.

Agus go raibh mile maith agaibh.

ENDS

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A chairde,

Today's gathering is a hugely important and historic chapter in the story of our party. 

Mar éireoidh ár gcara ‘is ár gcomrádaí Gerry Adams as Uachtaránacht Shinn Féin inniú.

With his long time comrade and friend Martin McGuinness - who so sadly and tragically was lost to us last year - Gerry has for four decades led from the front of the republican struggle.

Like Martin, Gerry is respected across Ireland and the world as a patriot, a statesman and a peacemaker.

 Gerry Adams stands head and shoulders above any other contemporary Irish political leader.

Ghlac sé ról lárnach i bpróiseas na síochána.

There would be no peace process but for the commitment and dedication of Gerry Adams.

Tá Sinn Féin níos laidre inniú ná nuair a bhí ag am ar bith o tharla críochdheighilt na tíre, a bhuíochas le ceannaireacht Gerry Adams.

Today, as he steps down as Uachtarán Shinn Féin, we wish him well and thank him for everything he has done for this struggle and for this country.

Go raibh maith agat a Ghearóid.

Comrades, for decades Sinn Féin has withstood everything that the British state could throw at it.

It has withstood the brutal assassinations of members, representatives and party workers.

It has withstood being outlawed, censored and vilified, North and South.

And, if the worst measures of two states could not defeat this party, nothing can!

We are proud that Sinn Féin was and is the voice of a risen people in the North.

A people who refused to be crushed in the darkest of days.

We are proud also that this party forged the path to peace in Ireland.

Tá Sinn Féin freagracht as an fheabhas atá tagtha ar chursaí ó thuaidh.

With the support of the people we have ensured that the Orange state is gone and that it's not coming back.

And with the support of the people we will ensure that the failed, two-and-a-half party system in this state will go also.

Tá fonn ar Shinn Féin a bheith i gcumhacht ó thuaidh agus ó dheas.

Ach ní theastaíonn cumhacht uainn beag bheann ar an phraghas atá le híoc.

We don't want to be part of the system.

We want to change the system.

Ní ghlacfaidh muidne pairt i rialtas muna bhfuil an rialtas sin bunaithe ar comhionannas, ar dearcadh poblachtánach, agus ceann atá tiomanta do shaol laethúil mhuntir na tíre a fheabhsú.

Some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have ruled this state since Partition.

Rinne siad feall ar shaoránaigh i gcaitheamh na mblianta.

Between them they built a conservative, narrow-minded state with an economy designed to serve the interests of a wealthy, privileged minority.

Tá Éire ag athrú.

Today's Irish young people are more self-confident than any previous generation.

They are rejecting and casting off the failed attitudes and approaches of the past.

The  political landscape is changing.

Tá rogha ag saoránaigh anois, agus tá siad ag dul i dtreo Sinn Féin níos mó ná riamh.

This party represents the greatest challenge yet to those who have dominated politics here since the foundation of the state.

Our political opponents know this and they fear it.

That is why they, and their cheerleaders in the establishment media, attack us so regularly and with such venom.

Tuigeann siad go dtiocfaidh deireadh le pribhléid an uasaicme mar a éiríonn le Sinn Féin dul ó neart go neart.

Today, Sinn Féin enters a new era.

Amharcann muidne go muiníneacha ar na laethanta atá amach romhainn.

Today we take another step in development of our party.

We will formalise the generational leadership change that will take us to the next stage of political struggle.

A chairde, níl teorainn leis na féidireachtaí.

Tá spriocanna uaillmhianacha againn, ach thig linn iad a bhaint amach.

Sinn Féin aims to unite Ireland and the Irish people in peace and harmony.

Under the leadership of Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill we will seek to build a genuine republic with equality and social justice at its very core.

With their leadership and the support of the people we are going to transform Irish politics.

A Chairde, ná déanígí dearmad go bhfuil go leor daoine, thuaidh ‘is theas, ag brath orainn.

Tá dualgas stairiúil le comhlíonadh againn.

We are a party of nation builders.

We follow in the footsteps and heroes and heroines.

A united Ireland and a real republic is the only fitting monument to their struggle and their sacrifice.

And let me make clear that the republican leadership of 2018 is as determined to achieve the republic as were those who went before us.

Ar aghaidh linn go dtí an chéad chéim eile

So, let's go forward and do it.

Let's take the next step today.

Onwards and upwards.

"Beware. Beware the Risen People."

Comrades, Sinn Féin represents the risen people.

And we will deliver Irish Unity in our time!

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking from Stormont on his last evening as Uachtarán Shinn Féin said:

“I want to thank everyone who helped me during my 35 years as leader of Sinn Féin. Tá mé fíor buioch daoibhse go léir. 

"I have been very fortunate to have known many very good people during that time and I am confident that the new leadership of the party – Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill – will help make Sinn Féin even bigger and stronger in the time ahead.

"There are many challenges facing the people of this island. Sinn Féin is the only major party committed to ending the crisis in our health services, in housing and homelessness and in rural communities.

"A united Ireland has to be worked for. Sinn Féin is about bringing the people of this island together in a new Republic, a new Ireland in which the rights of citizens are protected, where poverty is eradicated and where we can all live in peace and unity and equality.

"50 years ago when I joined Sinn Féin it was a banned party. The nationalist people of the North had been abandoned and were subject to discrimination and inequality. We were on our knees. We are now off our knees. We have a Good Friday Agreement.

"It is in some difficulty at this time.  But it offers the way forward. There is now a peaceful and democratic path to Irish unity. A way to unite Orange and Green and end division. Everyone who wants a new and agreed Ireland should embrace that. 

I believe the future is bright. I believe that we will find a way forward."

Commenting on the current state of the talks Gerry Adams said:

“It isn’t sorted out as we speak. We have made some progress but there are still considerable obstacles but as I said to our unionist friends this is the last chance agreement. They need to embrace the need for rights for everybody and agree a space where we can all moderate our differences."

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald highlights International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The East Derry MLA said:

"February 11th marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science which promotes the achievement of full and equal access to, and participation in, science for women and girls, to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

"Despite efforts over recent years, the numbers of women participating and working in science, and in particular fields of science, remain much lower than men.

"In 2016, women represented 21% of those employed in careers in the core STEM subjects; 18% of ICT professionals; and only eight per cent of those employed in engineering.

"The drop-out rate of women from degree to post-graduate, post-doctoral and beyond from STEM subjects and careers lead to very low representation of women at higher career levels.

“This must be addressed.  This means tackling the real and perceived barriers which limit the opportunities of women having rewarding, well-paid careers in these fields. 

“Good initiatives and programmes are in place to address gender disparity in STEM, however we still need to do more to ensure we highlight opportunities and showcase role models. 

"Young girls need to be able to see positive role models in all walks of life.

“There is a responsibility on everyone in a leadership role, in politics, business, academia and civic society, to address gender equality and reduce barriers to participation by women.

"We need to encourage the half of the population most inclined to opt-out of science to opt in, to see opportunities for themselves and for society through their contribution.”

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Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan questioned Health Minister Simon Harris on his promise to implement changes in January 2018 to the Fair Deal Scheme.  

Deputy Nolan specifically referred to farmers and the three-year cap on the time charge on farm assets:

“In light of the fact that farming families have waited so long for these changes and are under great pressure, including in my constituency of Offaly where many farming families have approached me and lobbied me on this issue, it is only right that we introduce these changes as quickly as possible.”  

She then asked the Minister “How long will it take for the changes to come into effect?” and urged the Government to take urgent action on the issue.

In response, Minister Harris advised that the Minister of State Jim Daly has been working very closely with the IFA on the matter and all were in agreement that “there needs to be greater equity and fairness for farming families and small business owners in the Fair Deal scheme”.  

Minister Harris indicated that he expects to have definitive proposals to put before the Oireachtas soon, which will require the co-operation of all the Members to pass into legislation as quickly as possible. Minister Harris finished by stating “We will have news on this very shortly”.

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Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed concern at the warning from EU negotiator Michel Barnier that border checks are ‘unavoidable’ as a result of the British government’s failure to agree progress on the transition arrangements following Brexit next March.

Teachta Adams said:

“The warning from Michel Barnier today that agreement on a transition arrangement is not a given, following several days of negotiations between Britain and the EU and that border checks are unavoidable as a result of the British government’s stance, is deeply worrying for the people of Louth and the border region.

“The EU Council is due to meet in March and, by that stage, it was expected that the British would have clarified what kind of relationship they wanted with the EU post-Brexit. Agreement was also to be achieved on the structure and detail of the transition arrangements.

“It would appear from Mr Barnier’s comments this morning that no agreement has been reached on either of these matters. Mr. Barnier pointed out that ‘time is short, very short, and we haven’t a minute to lose if we want to succeed’.

“It is also reported that Britain has been told that the EU draft withdrawal agreement will stipulate that the North will in effect remain in the single market and customs in order to avoid a hard border.

“The Irish government must urgently seek clarification from the EU negotiating team on the current state of play with the British. Specifically, we need to know if the legal language of the draft agreement will support the North remaining within the single market and customs union; if the Irish government will support that position; and will it refuse to accept, as was agreed in December, that there will be no hard border?

“The Irish government must also demand that the British government spell out what measures it plans to put in place to ensure that full regulatory alignment is put in place.” 

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Energy, Environment and Climate Change Cathal Boylan MLA has welcomed the news that the North of Ireland recorded its highest ever household waste recycling rate last year.

The Newry and Armagh MLA was commenting on figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs which showed that recycling rates from July to September 2017 increased from 48.4% in the same period in 2016, to 51.5% in 2017.

Cathal Boylan said:

"Increases in household recycling rates are welcome and will result in much needed environmental improvements.  

"We should continue to focus on building a culture of recycling which includes learning from best practice, developing the right infrastructure, incentives and public awareness campaigns.

"I would continue to encourage everyone to reuse, reduce and recycle and hopefully next year we will be setting a new waste recycling record.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that Special Designated Status for the North of Ireland within the European Union is a live project and that all Irish parties must be unite in pursuing it.

Carthy’s comments followed a news conference in which EU’s chief negotiator, on Brexit Michel Barnier, said that the EU will prepare a draft of the British withdrawal treaty that envisions the North of Ireland remaining in the customs union.

Matt Carthy said:

“When Sinn Féin MEPs first suggested that North of Ireland could remain in Customs Union after Brexit we were accused of grandstanding and told that it was an unrealistic position by other parties including Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“Following today’s announcement by Michel Barnier, it is clear that Special Status for the North is a live project. It has been evident for anyone who has examined this matter that the only way in which a hardening of the Irish border can be avoided is for all of Ireland to remain part of the Single Market and Customs Union.  Anything less risks the imposition of border controls and the undermining of the Good Friday Agreement.

“It is therefore now time for all Irish political parties and the Irish Government to unite in pursuing that goal."

END

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the decision of the European Parliament to form a new special committee to examine the Paradise Papers revelations.

Carthy, a member of the Panama Papers inquiry committee which presented its final report and recommendations in December, said the new special committee would provide MEPs the opportunity to continue their work examining financial crime, corporate tax avoidance and tax evasion within the EU and internationally.

The Sinn Féin MEP led the mandate negotiations for the GUE/NGL group, and the draft mandate was agreed by political groups this week.

Cathy said: “I have been calling for a new special committee to examine the revelations in the Paradise Papers from offshore law firm Appleby since the leak, so this is a very welcome move by the European Parliament. Establishing a new special committee will allow MEPs to continue our work examining the nature of, and solutions to, tax avoidance, tax evasion and money-laundering in the EU and around the world.

“There are many Irish connections to the Paradise Papers, including revelations regarding the Irish government’s facilitation of ongoing massive tax avoidance by Apple, as well as regarding AIB, Denis O’Brien, Bono and others, which I will be urging the committee to examine.

“As well as continuing the work we carried out in the Panama Papers inquiry committee, which came to an end in December – and the previous special committees examining the LuxLeaks revelations – we will also be focusing on new emerging issues including tax avoidance and evasion in the digital economy.

“During negotiations I was successful in securing agreement from across the political spectrum that the new committee will also examine the consequences of  bilateral tax treaties concluded by Member States. This is especially relevant given the Irish government’s failure to end the use by multinationals of the so-called ‘Single Malt’ tax avoidance strategy, a replacement of the Double Irish, which is facilitated by some of our double taxation treaties.

“I also gained broad support for including examining the impact of tax avoidance by EU companies on developing countries, the use of VAT fraud revealed in the Paradise Papers – particularly in the Isle of Man – and the role of the United Nations as an important international actor in tackling these issues.

"The committee intends to put particular emphasis on examining the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies as notorious hubs for financial crime, secrecy and tax-dodging.” ENDS

Note to editors:

The draft mandate of the new special committee agreed by political groups at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents on Thursday 8 February is attached.

The exact name of the new special committee has not been decided.

The draft mandate will be adopted by MEPs at the next plenary session in Brussels on February 28.

The composition of the new special committee will then be voted on by MEPs at the plenary session in Strasbourg from March 16-19, and the constitutive session of the committee will also be held immediately after this vote.

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Carál Ní Chuilín MLA has pledged support for a plan to build social homes in the Carrick Hill area of North Belfast.

The North Belfast MLA was commenting after Choice Housing Association announced plans to build 20 apartments and eight houses on the Little Donegall Street car park. Given the extent of housing need in the area she urged Belfast City Council to approve the plan.

“Sinn Féin have long campaigned for the need to develop social housing on available land, particularly in areas of high objective need such as North Belfast,” Carál Ní Chuilín said.

“The demand has and will remain to be for homes, not for car parks so we are calling on the Council to ensure all opportunities to provide much needed homes for local families are maximised.

“All bodies that have responsibility for housing development need to focus on the lack of supply of social homes and ending the inequalities that exist within the housing system.”

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