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Massive crowd in Dublin for Right2Water rally

Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to 80,000 people from all across Ireland traveled to attend.

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said documents released today by Sinn Féin clearly show the DUP acted in bad faith over the Welfare Reform Bill.


"If the DUP want to strip benefits from children with disabilities, from adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick; or push children further into poverty, then they need to explain and justify that. Sinn Féin certainly will not accept that approach." - Martin McGuinness 



Latest Statements

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Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has said that an IFA report showing nearly a third of pork labelled as 'Irish' was not from this country vindicates the vote taken in the EU Parliament last week calling for mandatory country of origin labelling for processed meats. 

 Speaking today the Dublin MEP said:

 “Last week in Brussels a majority of MEPs voted in favour of a resolution that I and 6 other MEPs brought forward calling on the Commission to propose legislation on mandatory country of origin labelling for meat in processed food.

 This was despite the fact that the Department of Agriculture wrote to MEPs urging them to think carefully before voting in favour of such a measure. 

 Unfortunately reports such as the results of the Irish Farmers Association testing programme on pork products highlight that mandatory food labelling is an absolute necessity and vindicates Sinn Féin’s stance on the issue.

We should not wait for another scandal on the scale of the horsemeat scandal before we act on this issue. Consistent studies have shown that the vast majority of consumers want this labelling.

This issue affects consumers and producers alike and reports and stories that dilute the quality and effectiveness of the valuable Irish brand should concern all the stakeholders involved in the meat industry.

 All concerned parties, including the Irish government, should work together to apply pressure on the EU Commission to introduce mandatory food labelling legislation for all meat products.”

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Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy today said that the publication of the TASC report, Cherishing All Equally: Economic Inequality in Ireland, should serve as a wake up call to Labour & Fine Gael members who had yet to realise that their parties policies are resulting in increased hardship on Irish families.

Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Economic & Monetary Affairs committee, made his comments after Paul Sweeney chairman of the TASC Economists Network findings showed that Ireland is now the most unequal country in the EU when it comes to how the economy distributes income, before taxes and social welfare payments are included.

Carthy said:

“This alarming pronouncement that Ireland is the most unequal country in the EU, shows once again that successive Irish Governments have chosen to protect the interests of vested financial elites over that of the ordinary citizen.

“It is quite clear that from this and other recent Reports that the level of inequality in Ireland is unsuitable.

"In my view, the evaluation of Paul Sweeny proves that lower and middle income families have been paying a disproportionate price for the austerity agenda that has been relentlessly pursued by successive Irish governments.

"The concentration of income in fewer hands gives the wealthy more power to lobby for tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit them.

“The priority must be to start to undo the damage done to the economy and to wider society by poor political choices championed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. The deficit could have been reduced in a fair and sustainable manner. Instead those on low to middle incomes and our public services were targeted, through a relentless austerity policy and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to emigrate”.

Carthy further stated

“It is imperative that this matter is addressed. As the findings of TASC indicated, Income inequality not only leads to poverty and social exclusion but it also lowers demand in the economy in a downward spiral of lost spending,”

"Government representatives should treat the findings of this Report as a wake-up call as it clearly demonstrates the real impact that political and economic choices have had on the lives of our citizens.

“What is needed is a fair and sustainable recovery rather than unequal and temporary recovery where inequalities become more entrenched.”

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Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has expressed concern following the withdrawal of foods thought to contain nuts instead of cumin seeds from a supermarket chain in Ireland.  

"The possibility that nut shells have been substituted for cumin seeds as a result of a global shortage of cumin is particularly worrying given the potential for allergic reaction to nuts.

"While it is too early to say if this is definitely a case of fraud or accidental, it once again highlights the complexities of modern food production chains and the need for an early warning system.

"Following the horsemeat scandal I called on the then Minister of Health to establish such a system that would be on the lookout for emerging food safety issues.  All that this would require is a forum where stakeholders in the food industry could confidentially report issues of concern and share information.  This would allow for possible problems or potential fraud to be flagged much earlier. 

"In the case of the horsemeat scandal, there were lots of warning signs but no facility whereby the information could be shared or concerns brought to light.  In the case of a cumin seed shortage, food producers and importers would be the first to know this and therefore in a position to flag any concerns they may have with cumin suppliers or the cost of cumin not reflecting the shortage.

"I am now calling on the new Minister for Health, Leo Varadker to revisit the idea of establishing such a body."

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the British government's continued refusal to allow prisoners to vote is an affront to democracy. 

Ms Anderson said;

"‎The European Court of Human Rights has found that Britain has breached the human rights of more than 1,000 prisoners by denying them the right to vote. 

"This is the fourth time the court has ruled against the British government's refusal, stating that the ban violates Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

"This latest case was brought by 1,015 prisoners who were denied their democratic right to vote between 2009 and 2011, including during the last general election. 

"The British government cannot continue to ignore the ruling of the court and deny people their basic human rights.  

"As a former political prisoner I believe that all prisoners deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and this includes access to democracy. 

"The continued denial of this right is an affront to democracy and places Britain alongside states with the worst human rights records in the world.

“I am calling on the British government to recognise the ruling of this court and give prisoners their human rights by allowing them to vote."

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Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has called on SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell to tell his party the truth about a welfare deal he had accepted during the Stormont negotiations, which fell well short of the final package achieved by Sinn Féin and the DUP.  

Conor Murphy said:

“Last December, during the negotiations, which led to the Stormont House Agreement, both the UUP and the SDLP agreed to a welfare package, which fell well short of what was subsequently achieved between Sinn Féin and the DUP. 

“The other three Executive parties later accepted on December 19th that enhanced package.

“The initial deal, supported by the SDLP and the UUP, did not include the supplementary payment fund – worth £125m over six years – or its protections for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities or the long-term sick. 

“The SDLP and the UUP did however agree a two-year loss of benefit sanction. They voted to strip claimants of their benefits for two years and are now posing as the protectors of the most vulnerable.

“In contrast, Sinn Féin stood firm and we achieved protections that are unique to the north of Ireland. 

“£565million will remain in the hands of the most vulnerable in our society over the next six years. 

“We have collectively removed the Tory cuts-driven elements of welfare changes in the north of Ireland and we have put in place protections which, unfortunately, are not available to the most vulnerable in England.

“However, it has become clear over the course of the last week that senior members of the SDLP including its Deputy Leader were not made aware of what their party had agreed.

“It’s time that Alasdair McDonnell tell his colleagues the truth on the deal they agreed to which would have left some of our most vulnerable people with no safety net.” CRÍOCH/ENDS

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Responding to news today in The Sunday Business Post that waiting lists for hospital care have trebled in one year Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said;

“These latest figures underscore the folly of Minister Varadkar’s and the Government’s attempts to relieve the crisis situation in Hospital Emergency Departments.

“The tripling of the number waiting, thousands for over 12 months, is due in no small measure to the cancelling of planned procedures in an effort to free-up theatre time and hospital beds.

“This is merely tinkering with the problem and shows again an unwillingness to face-up to the real causes of the crisis.

“It also shows no appreciation of the distress, and often pain, that those awaiting access must endure.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the five day visit by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to Israel and Palestine.

Gerry Adams said:

“I welcome the visit by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Israel and Palestine.

“The visit comes at a time of increasing tension in the region, as well as a bitterly contested Israeli general election.

“It is vital that the Minister meets all of those involved in the conflict, from all sides and the government needs to mount a strong diplomatic effort with the Israeli government to ensure that the Minister is able to visit Gaza.

“It is important that the Minister sees first-hand the devastation caused by last summer’s Israeli attack on Gaza and speaks to victims and to those who represent the besieged citizens of Gaza.

“Prior to Christmas the Dáil unanimously passed a motion supporting the right of the people of Palestine to sovereignty and statehood. Minister Flanagan needs to make clear that the Irish people support Palestinian statehood.  

“The Minister needs to add his voice to those who also support the decision of the Palestinian government in January to join the International Criminal Court and of that court’s decision to open a preliminary probe into possible war crimes committed against Palestinians, including during last year’s Israeli assault on Gaza.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has welcomed today's statement by unions affiliated to the Right2Water campaign endorsing the idea of establishing core principles for a progressive government ahead of the next General Election.

The unions involved - the CPSU, the Communication Workers' Union, Mandate, OPATSI and Unite, are to convene a special May Day Conference to discuss the issue.

Gerry Adams said:

"I said last week that I believed there now exists a unique opportunity to change Irish politics for the better.

"I called on those who want real change, and who believe that a government without Fine Gael or Fianna Fail is possible, to work together towards that end.

"So, I welcome today's statement by the five unions affiliated to the Right2Water campaign.

"It mirrors my own suggestion of a Citizens’ Charter, encapsulating the fundamental principles that could take us towards a citizen-centered, rights-based society.

"This has to involve the widest possible participation of communities, social movements, trade unions, political parties and independents.

"We need a real debate in advance of the next election about the direction our country should take and the type of society we want to build.

"Today's development marks another contribution towards this."

ENDS

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"As a mother I can’t begin to comprehend the tragedy that has befallen the Brennan family with the loss of young Jake.  The Jake’s Legacy campaign is a credit to Jake’s parents Rosie and Chris and to the wider family and their supporters." - Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald today joined the family and supporters of Jake Brennan, a young boy who lost his life when he was hit be a car outside his home in a Kilkenny housing estate, to launch The Road Traffic Amendment Bill 2015 - ‘Jake’s Law’.

Sinn Féin will use its Private Members Time in the Dáil next week to debate the bill which seeks to reduce the speed limit in housing estates to 20km per hour.

Deputy McDonald was also joined at the launch by Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Dessie Ellis and Kilkenny County Councillor Kathleen Funchion.

Speaking at the launch she said;

“As a mother I can’t begin to comprehend the tragedy that has befallen the Brennan family with the loss of young Jake.

“The Jake’s Legacy campaign is a credit to Jake’s parents Rosie and Chris and to the wider family and their supporters.

“To pick themselves up and campaign for a law that would help prevent another family from going through their trauma is an extremely courageous thing to do and I commend them for it.

“I am happy to say that we will be bringing Jake’s Law to the floor of the Dáil next week and we will be seeking cross party support for it.

“The Taoiseach, the Transport Minister Paschal Donohue and Environment Minister Alan Kelly have all shown support for Jake’s Legacy so I hope that this will pass through the Oireachtas speedily.

“This is not a party political issue.  It deserves the support of all parties and none and I trust we will get it in the Dáil this week.”

ENDS

Videos

Massive crowd in Dublin for Right2Water rally


Photos

Sinn Féin Dublin South West