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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said today he would be raising the allegations with the Chief Constable, Policing Board and Ombudsman that members of RUC Special Branch had handed over guns to state agents, used in as many as 60 killings.

Gerry Kelly was speaking after revelations last night that a secret RUC Special Branch forensic team WERC had withheld forensic reports from police inquiries, tampered with forensic evidence and handed weapons over to Special Branch agents which were later used in 60 killings.

Gerry Kelly said:

“I will be raising these damning allegations with the Chief Constable and the Policing Board that an RUC Special Branch forensic unit, WERC, handed guns over to state agents which were used in over 60 killings.

“I want to know was there ever any PSNI investigation into WERC’s activities of tampering with forensic evidence, providing guns to Special Branch agents which were used in killings and then falsifying reports to the courts.

“These revelations are further evidence of collusion by the British state in killings during the conflict and ongoing efforts to cover it up.

“We need to know is there any branch of the PSNI involved in any forensic work which is the exclusive remit of the Department of Justice’s Forensic Science NI?

“Victims and their families demand and need answers to these questions. I will be raising this with the Chief Constable and the Policing Board and seeking a meeting with the Ombudsman in relation to this inquiry.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today warned that the British Conservative government’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act is a direct attack on the Good Friday Agreement and the international Treaty that gives effect to it in law.

Speaking in the Dáil today, the Sinn Féin leader called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenna, as co-guarantor of the Agreement along with the British government, to urgently raise this matter with the British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“Following their election victory last week, the Conservatives have said that they plan a fundamental change to human rights legislation, including repealing the current Human Rights Act and replacing it with a new Act.

“Part of their focus is to end what they describe as the ‘excessive influence of the European Convention on Human Rights’.

“Under the Tory’s plan, the ECHR would no longer be able to make binding decisions over the British Supreme Court or force the government to introduce laws to bring them into line with Europe.”

Teachta Adams warned that:

“The implications of the Tory plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and reject the current oversight role of the European Convention on Human Rights are enormous for the administration of government, for justice, policing, and equality in the north.

“It is also a direct and scandalous attack on the Good Friday Agreement and the international treaty signed by the British and Irish governments which gives legal affect to the Agreement.

“This would be a grievous breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Under the terms of the treaty between Ireland and the Britain, which incorporates the Good Friday Agreement into law, and is lodged with the United Nations, the British government is obliged to complete the incorporation into law in the north of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Agreement also commits to safeguards to ensure that the Assembly and public authorities in the north cannot infringe the European Convention on Human Rights.

“These safeguards also apply to policing.

“The Tory government proposal is a clear and significant breach of the Good Friday Agreement and of the International Treaty that underpins it. There is an onus on the Irish government as a co-guarantor of the Agreement to raise this matter as a matter of urgency with the British government.” 

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Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD during a debate he requested, called on the Minister for Education to address the needs of students who were registered in English Language Schools that closed.

 Deputy O’Brien said:

 “This issue has been going on for over a year.

 “A year ago, I asked then Minister Quinn to appear before the Committee to answer to this and now 14 language schools have closed in Dublin alone.

 “In response to this, the Minister said that they could transfer to other courses at a discounted rate.

 “This response displays a fundamental lack of understanding of the problems faced by the students.

 “Many of the students can’t afford to transfer to discounted courses, they are living in poverty.

 “The Minister hasn’t provided any clarification as to what options are available to students who can’t afford to transfer to another college, some students have already transferred course twice already.

 “This simply isn’t good enough.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said Sinn Féin is committed to the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement. 

Mr McKay said; 

"Sinn Féin is committed to achieving the full implementation of all the outstanding issues of the Stormont House Agreement, including welfare, to ensure the agreed protections are in place for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick and large families. 

"Work is continuing on all of these issues.

"A much greater challenge to the Executive comes from the £25 billion in further cuts promised by the Tories which would result in a huge hole in the budget.

"All of the Executive parties need to work together to develop a common approach to deal with the challenges presented by the British government’s austerity agenda."

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Speaking in response to the news that Dunnes Stores have agreed to give its staff a three percent pay increase, Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights Senator David Cullinane said that while he welcomed the announcement, the company needed to do more.

Senator Cullinane said:

“I welcome that Dunnes Stores have agreed to a three percent pay rise for workers, but if vulnerable low paid workers do not have security around the number of hours they work then a pay rise while important can actually have a negative outcome. 

“If an employer reduces your hours then the pay increase becomes virtually meaningless.  A pay increase is welcome, but it must be underpinned by banded hour contracts.

“These contracts are the only way to guarantee security of earnings for vulnerable workers like those in Dunnes stores. A cornerstone of decent work is job security and this means that workers are guaranteed decent and secure earning from week to week.”  

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Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane has challenged Theresa Villiers over the British government's plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. 

The South Down MLA said; 

"Reports that the British government are planning to scrap the Human Rights Act are very worrying. 

"Unfortunately, however, it is not surprising coming from this Tory government. 

"Theresa Villiers is fond of telling locally elected politicians on the need to implement agreements but seems to be oblivious to the fact that scrapping the Human Rights Act would result in a breach of the Good Friday Agreement. 

"The Good Friday Agreement is an internationally recognised agreement, endorsed by the people in referenda and lodged with the United Nations. 

"I am calling on Theresa Villiers and her government to reflect on the implications for the Good Friday Agreement before taking any decisions on this important matter." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said an all-Ireland approach is needed to tackle addiction and suicide. 

Speaking during an Assembly debate on suicide in Derry, the Foyle MLA said; 

"The issue of suicide is one which touches all communities across our island. 

"Sinn Féin have established an addiction taskforce in the city to identify and fill the gaps in current service provision and to date 20 organisations from the statutory, community and voluntary sectors have signed up. 

"There is a clear need for a crisis intervention services in the Derry area where users, particularly young people, can be treated in a safe place. 

"There has been considerable discussion on the need for a detox unit in Derry.

"And while that may be what is required, the reality is we have a purpose-built rehab and detox facility on our doorstep in White Oaks, Muff, County Donegal which is not fully functioning and is currently unavailable to people in Derry. 

"I am calling on the new health minister to visit the White Oaks facility to see the difference it could make.

"I encourage him to engage with his southern counterpart towards the creation of an all-Ireland approach to tackle addiction and suicide. 

"Addiction does not recognise borders and neither should treatment." 

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Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights David Cullinane has called for the restoration of pay for low and middle income public servants.  Calling for a debate on the future of the state’s public services, Senator Cullinane said:

“Any restoration of pay in the public service must prioritise low to middle income workers. These are the people who took the brunt of the government’s slash and burn policies and they are also the people who work in some of the most under-staffed and under-resourced sectors.

“When it comes to pay and working conditions, the state should be setting an example. It is not acceptable that government departments are engaging in exploitative work practices and regular users of the appalling JobBridge scheme. 

“If we are to rebuild our public services, we need a vision of what an accountable, efficient, and decent public service would like. The government continues to insist that austerity is over and that we are now on our way to recovery. 

“A real recovery must include a commitment to the provision of decent public services for all our people. It will also require a commitment to ensure decent pay and conditions for low to middle ranking public servants and a willingness to tackle high pay at the top.” 

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said the Government must now compel banks to pass on ECB interest rate reduction to households.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Mr Adams raised with the Taoiseach a report sent to the Department of Finance yesterday, in which the Central Bank told the Government it does not want powers to compel banks to reduce variable mortgage interest rates

Gerry Adams said:

“Yesterday, in a report sent to the Department of Finance, the Central Bank told the Government it does not want powers to compel Irish banks to reduce variable mortgage interest rates. Over 300,000 mortgage holders will have received this news with utter dismay.

“Let’s be clear what’s going on here. The European Central Bank reduced its variable interest rates but Irish Banks have refused to pass this reduction on to households and are instead pocketing this money.

“Quite simply Irish mortgage holders are being ripped off by the banks. Meanwhile, the Central Bank is refusing to be a watchdog in relation to the banks and to protect mortgage holders. Sinn Féin has been calling on the Government to take action on this issue for four years now.

“Mortgage holders on variable interest rates want the Government to state very clearly and robustly that it rejects the Central Bank recommendation. They want to hear that the Government is going to ensure that the Central Bank takes on these powers.

“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance need to assert clearly that they will ensure that mortgage holders, who have been denied the benefit of ECB reductions, will finally be afforded some relief.

“High variable mortgage rates are contributing to the overall crisis in mortgage arrears. The Government must move beyond rhetoric and waffle. Hand-wringing by the Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan has not worked. Polite conversations with Bank CEOs have not worked. As Michael Noonan might put it, some of these bank CEOs are ‘allergic’ to fairness.

“The Government needs to take firm and decisive action. Citizens have been waiting and waiting for proposals to deal with the mortgage crisis.

“The Government has no problem introducing unprecedented, new legislation to pickpocket citizens’ wages, pensions and social welfare to pay its Water Tax.

“They need now to stand up for householders and taxpayers. They need to stand up to the banks and introduce specific measures to end the bank veto and reduce variable interest rates.”

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The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Brian Stanley TD, launched his party’s private members motion which calls for the establishment of an independent planning regulator as recommended by the Mahon Report. He described the Government’s proposal for a regulator to be contained in promised legislation as ‘inadequate'.

Deputy Stanley said:

“We are bringing this motion forward as we believe that there is a need for an independent planning regulator as recommended by Justice Mahon. The outline for proposed Government legislation makes the office subservient to the Minister, in contradiction of Mahon’s recognition for a regulator with powers separate from the Department.

“I will also be highlighting a number of current planning issues which underline the need for a regulator. Among them are serious allegations regarding planning irregularities in county Wicklow. The Minister and his predecessor Phil Hogan were aware of the claims. It is unsatisfactory that nothing has been done to act on the claims, and that a file regarding one case was removed from the Minister’s office before he could read it.”

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Dublin South West representative Seán Crowe TD has expressed his concern and frustration at the alarming rise in citizens languishing for longer and longer periods on hospital waiting lists.

Crowe has claimed that there is no real working strategy by Health  Minister Varadkar to tackle the current crisis which he described as going from bad to worse

Deputy Crowe said:
“There is no denying that is a serious problem with waiting lists for outpatients and inpatient procedures in Tallaght Hospital.

 Figures available from the National Treatment Purchase Fund reveal that at the end of April there were 30713 outpatients attending Tallaght Hospital, up on the previous month.

 Of these 7740 had been waiting up to three months; 5199 had been waiting for 3-6 months; 7949 waiting 6-12 months, 7841 have been waiting between one and two years, 1707 people have been waiting between two and three years, 268 have been waiting between three and four years and 9 people have been waiting over four years.

Out of these figures 5504 were categorised as paediatric services. “

Teachta Crowe, a member of Tallaght Hospital Action Group, continued:

“Inpatient figures also make for uncomfortable and depressing reading.  At the end of April, in Tallaght Hospital, 3598 patients were waiting for an inpatient procedure with 603 of these having been waiting for more than a year. The crisis for patients and their loved ones is going from bad to worse.

Behind many of these hospital figures are individuals some in pain, dependent on medication with their lives on hold while awaiting life changing procedures.

This government’s health strategy is deeply flawed, lacks coherence and is increasingly failing patients right across the state.

Soundbites and government rhetoric won’t address the failings in current system.

Investment in the provision of extra beds, extra nurses, step-down facilities, long term care and nursing home beds will and is the only long term sensible solution to the waiting list crisis.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said the British government must end its refusal to hold a full inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. 

Speaking following the start of a judicial review into the British government's failure to hold an inquiry, Mr Kelly said; 

"In 2001 at Weston Park the British and Irish governments agreed to an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. To date the British government has failed to implement the Weston Park agreement. 

"Since then British prime ministers have continually refused to hold an inquiry into the murder, despite extensive negotiations between the Finucane family and the British government. 

"Clearly the British government is afraid of what will emerge during such an inquiry and that’s why it’s continuing to deny the Finucane family their basic human rights by refusing an inquiry. 

"This was reinforced by the fact, which emerged during this judicial review, that senior British civil servants consider there is no basis for reneging on the commitment to the Finucane family. British government papers described Pat Finucane’s murder as worse than any event from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

"Hopefully this judicial review will be successful and the British government will finally fulfil its responsibility to the Finucane family.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking today at the Connolly memorial, opposite Liberty Hall, on the anniversary of the execution of James Connolly said: 

 “Following the calamity of the economic crash under the last Fianna Fáil-led Government, a Fine Gael/Labour coalition assumed office with a huge mandate for political change, but as citizens have learned to their cost, nothing has changed.

 “According to the most recent CSO figures, the top 10% own over half of the wealth, while the poorest 20% owe more than they own.

 “According to the ESRI, only the top 40% of households actually benefited from the last Budget with the greatest benefits going to the top 10%.

“Fine Gael and Labour’s four Budgets have been the most unfair and unequal since the economic crash. There has been a huge growth in social inequality. A third of our children now live in consistent poverty.  Over 1,000 children are homeless in this city.

“Low and middle-income earners have been severely penalised by Fine Gael and Labour. The abolition of the PRSI ceiling, increase in VAT, the introduction of a Family Home Tax and Water Charge have significantly increased the tax bill of ordinary workers.

“The abject failure to do anything practical to alleviate the plight of those in mortgage distress or those struggling with spiralling rents has further increased financial pressure on ordinary families. These are the same damaging policies agreed by Fianna Fáil with the Troika in 2010 and implemented by Fine Gael and Labour since 2011.

“There is a better, fairer way. Sinn Féin advocates a reform of the tax system to ease the burden on low and middle-income earners while also increasing revenue to invest in a fair and just recovery.

“In Government Sinn Féin would do this by:

● Abolishing the Property Tax and Water Charges;

● Reforming the USC to ease the burden on lower earners;

● Ensuring high-earners pay their fair share of income tax;

● Increasing employer’s PRSI to address the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund;

● Introducing a wealth tax to generate funds for investment in job creation.

“Sinn Féin passionately believes that the economy must serve society, not the other way around. We would introduce measures to support and promote small and medium enterprises.

“Citizens are entitled to secure jobs with decent pay and conditions, adequate housing and quality public services. Fine Gael and Labour are perpetuating a lie that it is possible to reduce the overall tax take while increasing investment in frontline services.”

 Mr Adams welcomed the recently published 'Policy Principles for a Progressive Irish Government' published on May Day by the unions affiliated to the Right to Water Campaign.

“We welcome this initiative and look forward to engaging in the debate in the weeks ahead. But debate is not enough. We need to see tangible progress to make change happen.

“Citizens desperately need, for the first time ever in this State, a Government that is neither led by Fine Gael nor by Fianna Fáil.

“More than that, they need a progressive Government that will pursue real and viable alternative policies based on equality not austerity, rights not privilege and that will govern in the interests of the people and not the elites.”

 Commenting on last week’s Westminster election results, the Sinn Féin Leader said Sinn Féin would actively oppose austerity “no matter if it's from a Tory Government in London or a Fine Gael/Labour Party government in Dublin.” 

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Leagan Gaeilge Thíos - Irish Version Follows

Irish Water should scrap their plans to install water meters in Galway and instead use the money to replace lead pipes and other faulty infrastructure, according to Sinn Féin Senator, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

Speaking today, he said:

“It is outrageous that many houses in Galway which have contaminated water due to lead piping will have water meters installed without these pipes being replaced.

“Irish Water and Galway City Council need to step up and indicate where residents might be at risk. Sinn Féin have had complaints from many areas and are getting independent tests done to assess the level of danger in some areas. But Irish Water should be the ones providing customers with locations where their water supply could be at risk from lead contamination.

“Irish Water is refusing to step up and perform tests in all areas, leaving residents to investigate the matter themselves. The financial burden shouldn’t fall on households to upgrade the pipes within their homes. This is unacceptable. In many cases it is the local authorities who were responsible for water supply that installed them and residents had no input into the type of piping being installed.

“The HSE also needs to perform a role in this and should conduct an investigation immediately on the impact this contamination could have on the public’s health.

“This new crisis of lead contamination in the water affects homes and business premises built before 1970 which have lead piping. 

“The replacement of lead pipes is not part of the “first fix free” programme, where Irish Water will repair leaks to pipes outside the hall door, but within the property.

“The huge amounts of money being expended on Irish Water and water meters would be better spent addressing the problems of leaks and outdated infrastructure. 

“The Government has wasted a massive amount of money on the corporate monstrosity of Irish Water. We have seen close to €100 million spent on incompetent ‘consultants’, €570 million so far on water meters, even though people are being charged a flat rate, and millions more on inflated executive salaries. 

“It is not too late for the Government to abandon Irish Water and the double taxation that is the water charge, and to invest instead in a properly run, efficient, and safe water system administered by the public officials who have a vast well of experience and know-how in the field.” 

Scrappáil méadair agus athraigh píopaí luaidhe – Ó Clochartaigh

Ba chóir d’Uisce Éireann na pleananna le méadair uisce a chuir isteach i nGaillimh a chaitheamh i dtraipisí agus an t-airgead a úsáid chun píopaí luaidhe agus infreastruchtúr fabhtach eile a athrú, dar le Seanadóir Shinn Féin, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

Ag labhairt dó inniu, deir sé:

“Tá sé scannalach go bhfuil uisce truaillithe in an oiread tithe í nGaillimh de bharr píopaí luaidhe agus fós go gcuirfear méadair uisce í bhfearas gan na píopaí seo a athrú. 

“Caithfidh Uisce Éireann agus Comhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe teacht isteach agus léiriú cá h-áit go díreach a bhfuil an chontúirt. Tá cuid mhaith gearáin déanta liom féin & Comhairleoirí Shinn Féin i gceantair éagsúla agus tá muid ag fáil roinnt tástálacha neamhspleácha déanta le leibhéal an chontúirt in áiteanna áirithe a mheas. Ach, ba chóir gurb iad Uisce Éireann a thabharfadh le fios cén áit a bhfuil an baol truaillithe ann ó phíopaí luaidhe. 

“Tá Uisce Éireann ag diúltú tástálacha a dhéanamh i chuile cheantar, dhá fhágáil faoi na tionóintí cúrsaí a fhiosrú dóibh féin. Ní chóir go dtitfeadh an chostas seo ar na teaghlaigh seo le h-uasghrádú a dhéanamh ar na píopaí ina dtithe féin. Níl aon ghlacadh agam leis sin. I gcuid mhaith cásanna is iad an tÚdarás Áitiúil a bhí freagrach as na píopaí a chuir isteach agus ní raibh baint ná páirt ag na tionóintí leis an gcinneadh sin.

“Tá ról le n-imirt an Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte sa scéal seo freisin agus ba chóir dóibh fiosrúchán a dhéanamh láithreach ar an dochar a d’fhéadfadh an truailliú seo a dhéanamh do shláinte an phobail. 

“Baineann an ghéarchéim is déanaí seo le truailliú luaidhe san uisce le tithe agús foirgintí a tógadh roimh 1970 a bhfuil píopaí luaidhe iontu. 

“Ní thógtar athrú píopaí luaidhe san áireamh mar chuid den scéim ‘Chéad Deisiú’ atá ag Uisce Éireann, áit a n-athrófar píopaí pollta taobh amuigh den príomhdhoras ach laistigh de theora an tsealúchais. 

“B’fhearr go mór fada na suimeanna ollmhóra airgid atá dhá chaitheamh ag Uisce Éireann ar na méadair a úsáid chun déileáil leis an uisce atá ag dul le fána agus infreastruchtúr seanchaite a athnuachan.  

“Tá an t-uafás airgid curtha amú ag an rialtas ar an bhfathach corparáideach seo Uisce Éireann. Tá suas le €100m caite ar ‘chomhairleoirí’ mí-éifeachtacha, €570 m go dáta ar mhéadair uisce, cé go bhfuil ráta caighdeánach dhá ghearradh ar gach duine, agus na milliúin eile ar thuarastail thar fóir d’fheidhmeannaigh.  

“Nil sé ró-mhall don rialtas tarraingt siar ó Uisce Éireann agus an cháin dúbailte atá dhá bhaint de shaoránaigh na tíre, agus infheistiú in áit in gcóras deá-rite, éifeachtach agus sábháilte faoi lámha oibrithe poiblí a bhfuil an t-uafás taithí agus saineolas acu sa réimse seo.”

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Sinn Féin’s Seán Crowe TD,  a member of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), has called on the new British Government to fully implement their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

Crowe  also expressed his concerns of the new Government’s proposed plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, which could see Britain pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and which in turn  would breach the GFA.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Last week the Conservative Party won an absolute majority in the Westminster elections and there is mounting concern in Ireland over some of the plans this new Government have.

“The last outgoing British Government had failed to uphold outstanding commitments in relation to the Good Friday and St. Andrew’s Agreements. This includes the failure to implement an independent  inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.

“A civil inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings has been stonewalled and sidelined. The Acht na Gaeilge continues to be ignored. There has been no movement on a Bill of Rights. There are no working plans or strategies to address these outstanding matters of critical importance.

“There are also major concerns with the new Tory Government’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act and pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights. This would directly breach what was agreed in the GFA.

“The Irish Government as co-guarantor of the GFA has a critical part to play and needs to oppose any moves by Britain to roll back from key human rights commitments that it signed up in the GFA.

“There is also an onus on the Irish Government as co-guarantor  to set out  now a clear strategy for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and all outstanding elements of previous agreements.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called for a fresh approach from the new DUP health minister. 

The chair of the Assembly's health committee said; 

"Hopefully the announcement of a new health minister by the DUP will signal a new approach to the department. 

"Simon Hamilton needs to abandon the approach of his predecessors, move into the 21st century and embrace equality. 

"He needs to realise the days of outdated prejudices are over and base his policies on addressing need rather than religious beliefs. 

"The new minister will have a lot in his in-tray and will have to address the crisis in pay for frontline heath staff, refocus on primary care and work to instil confidence in Transforming Your Care.

"Sinn Féin will continue to prioritise frontline health services and stand up for the hard-pressed staff and ensure their dedication and professionalism are recognised." 

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Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Daithí McKay has said an 'English decision' to leave Europe and bring the North of Ireland out of the European Union at the same time would cause 'economic devastation' on the island of Ireland.

The North Antrim MLA said:

“We now have in place at Westminster an English government operating against Scottish, Welsh and Irish opinion that we are better off in the EU.

“There is no doubt if we leave the EU in two years time that this would disastrous for the economy on this island.

“It would make the border an even greater barrier to economic activity and job creation. It would remove hundreds of millions of pounds in terms of PEACE funding. EU funding from 2007-13 was worth £2.4billion to the North.

“As an Open University Review has already highlighted, the price of doing cross-border business would rise and we would be in a much weaker position to attract Foreign and Direct Investment compared to the rest of the island.

 “There is a clear need for progressive parties, for the farming community, for fisheries and for the business community to put forward the arguments now that we are economically better off in the European Union. 

“Sinn Féin wishes to see a separate referendum here for EU membership in the event of the British government going ahead with their plan.

“With only 9,055 voting for the Tories in the north of Ireland how can we be dictated to by them or by London on whether or not we should stay in the EU."

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed a further commitment from Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry that he will apply for additional funding for the expansion of Magee. 

The Foyle MLA said;  

"The expansion of the university at Magee is vital to the regeneration of Derry. 

"The Strategy Board in Derry commissioned consultants to prepare a business case for the expansion of Magee and that is currently being scrutinised by officials. 

"I asked the minister for an update on the expansion of Magee and was pleased that he reiterated his commitment to bid for extra money from the Executive for the expansion. 

"The minister said that he does not currently have the funds for the expansion. However, he said he will make a bid to the Executive if the appraisal makes the case that it represents good value for money for the North. 

"I have no doubt the business case will show that the expansion of Magee will not only represent good value for money for Derry but for the North generally.

"Sinn Féin will continue to support the expansion of Magee and will ensure that the minister fulfils his commitments." 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has written to European Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks expressing concern that Britain may pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Ms Anderson said; 

"The re-election of the Tories in Britain and their intention to scrap the Human Rights Act and pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights is very concerning. 

"Any moves by Britain to roll back from human rights commitments are unacceptable. 

"If Britain does pull out of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights would no longer be binding over Britain's supreme court. 

"As well as denying people access to this essential human rights body, it would also mean that Britain would be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement. 

"I have written to Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, to express concern at the possibility of Britain further attempt to abandon its human rights responsibilities. 

"Given the seriousness of this situation I have asked Commissioner Muiznieks to visit the North of Ireland and to provide an analysis of the human rights implications of a possible British government withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights." 

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Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed progress on the redevelopment of the old Waterside railway station. 

The Foyle MLA said; 

"The campaign to redevelop the old Waterside railway station to create a modern, purpose-built railway station for Derry has been ongoing for some time. 

"I asked the transport minister for an update on the progress on the redevelopment and I am pleased the project is moving forward. 

"The minister told me that as part of the procurement exercise to appoint a design team, Translink have now issued a pre-qualification questionnaire for design services. 

"Translink will also issue an invitation to tender documents shortly which will include the project of redeveloping the old Waterside station into a modern station. 

"This progress is welcome and marks another step forward towards the full redevelopment of the old station, which is widely regarded as an architectural treasure, into the type of modern station that Derry needs and deserves. 

"Sinn Féin want to see this redevelopment as soon as possible, together with the completion of the upgrade work on the Derry to Belfast line to improve the transport infrastructure of the north west." 

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