Sinn Féin MLA and National Chairperson Declan Kearney has said reconciliation must be an imperative, not an option.
Writing in An Phoblacht, Declan Kearney said;
"Reconciliation and healing in our society are an imperative for the Irish peace process. But their achievement continues to be both challenging and elusive.
"Sinn Féin is absolutely committed to ensuring a process of reconciliation and healing is established.
"Republicans have stretched and challenged ourselves to develop the peace process.
"It is now time that others began to do the same.
"That should include active and unambiguous commitment from the leaderships of political unionism.
“There is a need for both a fresh start and new start by political unionism towards reconciliation.
"Reconciliation is not a one-way street.
"It is crucial that others also begin to embrace this challenge and responsibility."
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said the future sustainability of the agri-food sector must be secured.
The Vice-Chair of the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee said:
“The development of a strategy to ensure the future sustainability and indeed survival of one of our most important sectors must be a priority.
“Any future strategy must encourage sustainable production, best agricultural practice, have a strong focus on the importance of harmonising farming practices with good environmental management and provide adequate support for those sectors of farming who struggle to be profitable on the land available to them.
“To achieve this we must put the best interests of our farmers and agri-food sector first.
“Single farm payments and other payments including agri-environment schemes and the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme ensure farmers have the means to survive. Without these the average farm income would have been negative last year and in four of the previous five years.
“Our farmers depend on the payments received. This amounts to more than £265 million per year in basic payments and continued levels of support must be ensured to secure the future sustainability of farming and agri-food industry.
“For Sinn Fein the best way to ensure this is through negotiation for special status for the North within the European Union.
“In that scenario the North would remain subject to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the current system of payments which are in place until 2020 when new arrangements will be negotiated.
“The British government do not place importance or policy priority on agriculture and have repeatedly argued, including in previous CAP negotiations that direct payments do not represent value for money.
“The signals coming from the British government are not encouraging. The Minister has her work cut out for her in terms of developing a strategy which secures the future of our agri-food industry under the finances available from the British government.
"The people of the North voted to remain and that vote must be respected.”
Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed an admission from the British Ministry of Defence that 15-year-old Manus Deery who was shot dead in 1972 was innocent.
The Foyle MLA said;
"I welcome the admission from the British Ministry of Defence and the PSNI that Manus Deery was innocent, was not carrying a weapon and that his killing breached guidelines.
"This is a 15-year-old boy who was shot dead by British soldiers as he chatted with friends.
"What came out in court today is what the people of Derry have known for 44 years.
"The Deery family are entitled to the truth about the killing of Manus and hopefully today's admission will help them in their continuing campaign for justice."
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for clarity on why a bank account belonging to the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Ms Anderson said;
"The recent move by the Bank of Ireland to suspend the bank account of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign sparked anger across the world.
"I wrote to the Chief Executive of the Bank of Ireland asking for an explanation of why the account was suspended.
"The reply set out the rules and regulations but gave no explanation behind the decision.
"We need clarity from the Bank of Ireland on this issue.
"I will be contacting Bank of Ireland again seeking a further response on the suspension of this account."
Commenting on a Parliamentary Question response from the HSE today, Sinn Féin TD for Offaly and North Tipperary, Teachta Carol Nolan, has called on the HSE and the National Ambulance Service to prioritise the identification of a suitable temporary accommodation for the Edenderry Ambulance Service.
Teachta Nolan said:
“I welcome the confirmation that the new ambulance service station in Edenderry is due to be completed by the end of 2018 at a cost of €1.7 million.
“This represents significant progress as the HSE has been unable to provide estimated costs and a timeframe for the project until now.
“I have sought further clarification from the Minister in relation to the amount of money that has been allocated to the project under Budget 2017 and how much has been ring-fenced by the Department of Health to complete this project.
“In the meantime, I am calling on the HSE and National Ambulance Service to intensify their ongoing discussions and prioritise the identification of a suitable temporary accommodation, pending completion of the project.
“The people of Edenderry and North Offaly cannot be left for two years without an ambulance service so it is critical that suitable temporary accommodation is identified and secured as soon as possible.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the comprehensive agreement to resolve long standing issues relating to the lease of Oriel Park in Dundalk.
Talks have been ongoing between Dundalk FC owners and the clubs former owner which will now allow Dundalk FC to take full ownership of the lease of Oriel Park and the Youth Development Centre.
Responding to news of this agreement Teachta Adams said:
“I want to warmly welcome the agreement that has been reached to resolve long standing issues relating to the lease of Oriel Park.
“The resolution of this dispute will provide the owners of Dundalk FC the opportunity to invest and further develop the Oriel Park stadium and the club.
“Oriel Park is considered a special place in the hearts of Dundalk supporters and fans, and it’s further development will be to the benefit of the whole community of Dundalk.
“The success of the club over the last number of years has given the Dundalk area a real boost, and I wish the club continued success and best of luck for the future.”
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform David Cullinane has rejected comments from Deputy Micheál Martin that workers should “show restraint” in seeking equal pay for equal work, saying that those workers need their public representatives to stand with them.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“Micheál Martin’s comments today are typical of a coalition partner in government. He is supporting his Taoiseach’s line.
“That line, which says that Lansdowne Road is the only game in town, is not credible.
“There are serious tensions within the public sector over the treatment of post-2011 entrants.
“Yet, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are refusing to sign up to the principle of equal work for equal pay.
“Both Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny are willing to stand over an unfair and unjust two-tier pay system in the public sector and they continue to bully young and dedicated nurses, teachers, and gardaí for asking that it be addressed.
“We should remind ourselves that it was Fianna Fail and their banker and developer friends that caused the crash while others paid the price.
“It is outrageous that Micheál Martin can call on public sector workers to ‘show restraint’ when his own party TDs voted to give themselves a pay rise not two weeks ago.
“All workers in this state, both public and private sector workers, have shown enormous restraint over the past eight years and have shouldered the burden for Fianna Fáil's business model.
“Now, when those workers need their public representatives to stand with them, Fianna Fail are instead having secretive meetings with the Taoiseach over what to do to keep people down.
“This is the new politics; keep things the same, keep people down, keep on giving tax breaks to the wealthiest in our society.”
Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has described plans for an increased 40,000 tonnes of waste at Ballynagran landfill as extremely alarming.
Teachta Brady said:
“Wicklow County Council have approved a temporary increase of an additional 40,000 tonnes of waste for Ballynagran landfill. This increase will bring the annual intake this year to 190,000 tonnes, 40,000 tonnes above the maximum tonnage under planning conditions. The EPA has pushed for this and has granted technical amendments to the licence for Ballynagran.
“This has come about because the landfill at Drehid in Co. Kildare has exceeded its annual EPA licence capacity. Clearly, this emergency situation was seen coming however, there was a failure to put in place any plans to deal with it and now Wicklow will become the dumping ground because of this failure.
“We know that Ballynagran landfill is already rated by the EPA as the worst dump in the State. Rather than doing something to change this, we will see thousands of additional waste instead.
“Furthermore, it is concerning that this decision has been agreed with no consultation with locals or public representatives whatsoever. Hundreds of officials complaints to the EPA regarding the landfill detailing the horrendous conditions that people have been forced to live in have gone ignored in this decision making process. I am aware of a family who had no option but to leave their own home one year ago and haven’t been able to return since because of the odour.
“A letter detailing this decision was circulated late Friday evening without any warning. Locals and public representatives should have been made aware of the emergency situation a long time ago. Wicklow County Council have not taken into the account the legitimate concerns of locals and instead are about to make a bad situation much worse.”
Note: Please see attached a letter from Wicklow County Council detailing the increase in waste
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed deep concern at reports of damage and suspected arson at Woodland Park site, Dundalk.
The Woodland Park site in Dundalk, was currently being refurbished, and is reported to have been vandalised in a suspected arson attack last night.
Responding to news of the attack, An Teachta Adams said:
“I’ve been in touch with An Garda Síochána, and, if this is an arson attack, everyone has a duty to support the Gardaí in their investigations, so that the perpetrator can be brought to justice.
“I also welcome the commitment from Louth County Council that they will complete the refurbishment works.
“Travellers have rights and, like all sections of our society, we need to defend and promote those rights.”
Sinn Féin TD and Defence Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said he welcomes the opportunity in the Dáil on the 24th of November to discuss Irish neutrality when a Bill he recently reintroduced with his colleague Deputy Seán Crowe was selected for Second Stage debate.
It is hoped the 35th (Amendment) of the Constitution (Neutrality) Bill, 2016 will secure enough cross-party support in the Dáil to ensure its passage.
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh believes that, if enacted, the legislation would greatly strengthen Ireland’s status as a neutral country by amending the Constitution to ensure the State would be prevented from aiding any foreign powers in preparation for a war unless it had the assent of the Dáil.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“There is a growing drive to enhance the EU’s military capacity as evidenced by the comments made last week by German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen who in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election success spoke of building a common security and defence organisation in Europe.
“Her comments were echoed by Federrica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, when she urged Member States to work together as a true Union with the ‘full potential of a super power, in the field of security and defence’.
“Last week in the Dáil, we debated Ireland’s participation in Defence Agency Projects that will see the EU directly funding for the first time military spending from its research budget.
“It is against this alarming backdrop of military expansionism that we need to maintain and enhance Irish neutrality and the Bill we will be debating on the 24th of November does just that by ensuring the State would strictly abide by a policy of non-membership of military alliances.
“It also empowers Irish citizens by giving them the opportunity to reaffirm the State’s neutrality in a referendum. In so doing, it reflects the majority view of Irish people who support and value our neutrality
“In the past, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have opposed our attempts to augment the State’s neutrality which is hardly surprising considering the way they have allowed foreign militaries, particularly the United States, to exploit Shannon Airport as a stopover to and from conflict zones.
“Now more than ever, we need to protect our neutrality from those who want to expand the continent’s military capacity under the guise of peace building.
“By passing this Bill, Ireland will be able to continue to make a highly significant contribution towards the long-held global objective of international peace with justice, and towards the achievement of the goal of universal Human Security, to which everyone has a right.”
Writing for thejournal.ie today Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said that partition has been an economic cul-de-sac for Ireland and that it’s time to talk about Irish unity.
The South Belfast MLA said:
“Partition has been an economic cul de sac for Ireland; north and south.
“It has held back economic progress right across the island.
“The North now lags behind the south on all growth indices: average wages south of the Border are €37,000, but just €25,500 in the North. Economic growth rates in the South are estimated at 3.6 per cent for 2017 but at just over 1 per cent in the North.
“Along the border region in particular the imact of partition was, and is still keenly felt. “
And Máirtín Ó Muilleor said that undemocratic decisions being made in London are holding back the North’s economic potential.
“The North’s economic potential is held back by British government policies that are not designed with the interests of the North at heart. A prime example of this is the British government’s plan to drag the north out of the EU against the democratic wishes of the people.
“A united Ireland with a single, all-Ireland economy would not only end the duplication of services on an island of 6.4 million, it would also address the economic uncertainty created by partition.
“That would create an environment where business can thrive and grow.
“Marketing the island as a business destination is also difficult with partition, with two economies and tax systems. A reunited Ireland would be easier to promote on the global stage and, as a result, would act as a lever to attract inward investment.
“A recently published and peer-reviewed study, ‘Modelling Irish Reunification’ by Professor Kurt Huebner from Vancouver University found that within a short number of years, the economy of a reunified Ireland would be better than the existing two economies by approximately €35 billion.
“This is the latest in a series of serious and respected economic reports that has shown that Irish unity makes economic sense.
“It is time we began a serious discussion and dialogue about what that would mean, what it would look like and how to bring it about.
“It’s time to talk about unity.” CRÍOCH/ENDS
Full article at http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/mairtin-o-muilleoir-partition-economy-3092098-Nov2016/
Sinn Féin MLA for west Belfast Jennifer McCann has spoken of her anger at those who pulled a woman from her car on the Pembrooke Loop Road in Poleglass.
Speaking today Ms McCann said:
“The incident where a woman was pulled from her car by three men who then drove off in it is worrying and has angered this community. Quite obviously the woman was left very shaken.
“It is a despicable attack on a lone woman. It seems to be a growing method of aggravated car theft that we are seeing across the city.
“While many newer car models do have automatic locking systems there are those which don’t. I would urge those who are travelling alone to put safety first and ensure their doors are locked while driving.
“I would also appeal to anyone who saw anything suspicious preceding this callous theft to report those details, no matter how small to the PSNI.”
Sinn Féin will launch its landmark reconciliation document this week “Towards an Agreed and Reconciled Future – Sinn Féin Policy on Reconciliation and Healing” in Clifton House, Belfast.
Speaking ahead of the launch Declan Kearney MLA and national chairperson of Sinn Féin said:
“This year has been hugely significant in terms of the potential to advance increased understanding and reconciliation in Ireland. Important events to remember, celebrate and commemorate seminal centenaries have occurred, reflecting our shared histories and multiple narratives.
“Sinn Féin is committed to creating the conditions for a new, agreed and united Ireland.
“It was in this spirit of mutual respect and promoting reconciliation that I represented Sinn Féin earlier this month at the Armistice Remembrance ceremony in the Assembly, and also at a recent discussion on the Easter Rising organised by the Fermanagh Orange Order.
"However there continues to be no generosity or reciprocation from significant sections of political unionism towards the reconciliation initiatives taken by republicans. That must change if we are to move forward as a society. Reconciliation is not a one-way street; it requires commitment from everyone.
“Increased understanding and mutual respect are the basis upon which to address our historic and current cultural and political differences and communal divisions. As a society we should open our minds to a discussion on the development of a shared culture of commemoration based upon parity of esteem, mutual respect and equality. This represents the way forward to building an inclusive, equal, agreed and shared future.”
Sinn Féin MEP, Lynn Boylan has called on the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten to remove Nigel Heneghan from the compliance committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Reacting to news that Mr Heneghan has had to excuse himself from more complaint assessments than any other committee member, Ms Boylan said "At the time of his appointment concerns regarding Mr Heneghan and his business interests with Denis O Brien's companies were raised .
This shows that those concerns were well founded. The fact that Mr Heneghan has had to excuse himself 5 times due to conflicts of interest is concerning but what is more worrying is the fact that he does not see a conflict of interest in sitting in on Newstalk complaints.
"It is a shame that Labour's Alex white refused to listen to the concerns raised when he appointed Mr Heneghan but Minister Naughten now has the opportunity to fix the situation and to put in place proper governance procedures that would ensure that such conflicts of interest would not occur in the future."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on water Eoin Ó Broin has accused Simon Coveney of “riding roughshod over the Oireachtas Water Committee” following the Ministers announcement that he has appointed Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh to chair the committee.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Simon Coveney confirmed today that he has appointed Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh as chair of the as yet unestablished Oireachtas Water Committee. The decision appears to have been made without any formalconsultation with other political parties and before the committee has been established and its membership agreed.
“Whether Fianna Fáil have signed up to this proposal is not yet clear though Mr Ó Céidigh was one of Micheal Martin’s appointments to the Seanad as part of his secret deal with Enda Kenny.
“Minister Coveney is riding roughshod over the Oireachtas Water Committee. In doing so he is demonstrating a serious dir]sregard for the Committee and for normal procedures.
“Special Oireachtas committee chairpersons are usually elected once the Committee has been established. This is what happened with the all party Health Committee and Housing and Homeless Committee established earlier this year.
“Standard Oireachtas Committee chairs are also agreed on a proportionate basis. To intervene as Minister and seek to appoint a chair, no matter who that person is, is a serious departure from Oireachtas procedure.
“Minister Coveney has repeatedly said that he wants to build a consensus on the issue of water. He also told TDs last week during Oral Questions that the work of the Water Committee was a matter for its members and that he didn't want to be seen to be interfering its its deliberations of the report from the expert group.
“Yet today we learn that the Minister is seeking to impose a chair on the Committee before it has even been established. The chair of the Water Committee is a matter for the members of that Committee to be decided once established. Sinn Féin will oppose any attempt by the Minister to impose a chair on the Committee.” ENDS
Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has criticised the ongoing policy of sporting events being blocked to satellite subscribing viewers in the North.
Speaking after yesterday's clash between Ireland and New Zealand was the latest event to be blocked Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said;
"Viewers in the North are becoming increasingly frustrated with the constant blocking of major sporting events, especially those with our national teams, on RTÉ when watching via satellite.
"Since the end of analogue TV some years ago, the vast bulk of people in the Six Counties, have satellite subscriptions and this is the only way they can avail of watching important sporting fixtures.
"Throughout Ireland's recent participation in the Euro's, boxing competitions, Saturday's rugby clash between Ireland and New Zealand as well as a wide range of other programmes, people are increasingly fed up at this digital partition blocking them from watching significant milestones in the sporting life of our country.
"While appreciating that thus far this matter has been down to licensing and contractual issues, equal access for viewers in the North obviously hasn't factored in the way that it needs to. Next week in the Seanad I will be calling on the Minister for Communications to engage with RTÉ and satellite providers to ensure that sports supporters across the whole of the country can avail of watching their heroes take part in the sport they love."
Sinn Féin National Chairperson and South Antrim Sinn Féin MLA, Declan Kearney has called for mutual respect and a shared culture of commemoration following recent attacks on memorials in Glenavy and Belfast.
Referring in particular to attacks on memorials around the time of Remembrance Sunday, Mr Kearney said;
“I was disappointed to see yet another attack on the War Memorial in Glenavy, and appalled by the vile desecration of the David Ervine Memorial in East Belfast.
“Given the timing of these attacks, it is clear they were designed to cause maximum offence during a significant period of remembrance for many in our society. All memorials are places which demand reverence and respect, regardless of what tradition they represent.
“For republicans in South Antrim, the attack on the David Ervive Memorial was reminiscent of the vandalism carried out at the Roddy McCorley Memorial in Toome earlier this year. On that occasion the people responsible also took time to record their vile behaviour which included scrawling graffiti, and urinating on the monument.
“All such attacks are wrong and demand the strongest possible condemnation. Sinn Féin has been consistent in speaking out against such actions and calling for respect for the different narratives and traditions which reflect our shared history.
“It was in this spirit of reconciliation and understanding that I represented Sinn Féin at the Armistice Remembrance ceremony in the Assembly, and also at a recent discussion on the Easter Rising organised by the Fermanagh Orange Order.
“Increased understanding and mutual respect are the basis upon which to discuss our historic and current cultural and political differences and societal divisions. As a community we need to be discussing the development of a shared culture of commemoration based upon parity of esteem, mutual respect and equality. This represents the way forward to building an inclusive, equal, agreed and shared future.”
Sinn Féin’s South Antrim MLA, Declan Kearney has condemned the most recent arson attack in the Stiles estate in Antrim, describing it as a reckless and potentially life threatening attack.
Following the burning of three cars in Aghaboy Gardens, Mr Kearney said;
“I am outraged there has been yet another arson attack in Antrim town, and shocked at the extent of the wanton destruction caused to local people’s property in Aghaboy Gardens.
“I am deeply concerned there appears to be a pattern emerging of arson attacks on cars in Antrim town over recent weeks, and specifically in the Stiles, Greystone and Springfarm estates. The criminals responsible have left behind a trail of destruction and fear.
“Arson is a particularly heinous crime. These fires all too often burn out of control posing very serious risk to surrounding property, and indeed the safety of those caught up in such attacks.
“Despite the huge damage caused in this latest incident, and the impact it will have on the victims, we are very fortunate that residents have escaped without serious injury, or worse.
“I will be meeting the PSNI commander for ‘D’ District and other officers responsible for the Antrim area later this week.
"I will be seeking reassurances that everything possible is being done to identify and apprehend the people responsible for these attacks, and raising what additional measures the police can take locally to support victims, and to enhance community safety especially within the neighbourhoods most affected.
“In the meantime I would urge the local community to be vigilant and report anything suspicious immediately to the police.
"These criminals need to be put off our streets and brought before the courts. Every piece of information, regardless how insignificant it may seem will be essential to make that happen.” End/Críoch
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs, and TD for Cork South Central. Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said the scandal of children in emergency accommodation must be tackled as a better of urgency.
His statement follows ccomments by Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection about the situation.
Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said:
"We welcome and support Geoffrey Shannon's comments that the placement of homeless children in emergency accommodation is contrary to International Law.
"Placing young children in these settings is wholly inadequate, and something which Sinn Féin has been highlighting for some time now.
"There are over 2,000 children who currently find themselves in emergency accommodation in the state.
"It comes as no great surprise that Geoffrey Shannon has raised this scandal.
"We must acknowledge that the parents of these children are not to blame here.
"The failings of both this and the last Government have allowed the issue to trundle on.
"The Ministers for Children and for Housing must come together to tackle this crisis immediately.
"Emergency accommodation is not conducive to the development of any child, and we are failing these children as a result.
"We need to ensure children are moved on from these locations as soon as possible, that involves delivering as soon as possible housing with some stability, and solving the rental crisis, which this Government has thus far refused to do."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on water Eoin Ó Broin TD has said that there are “no surprises” in the leaked Water Commission report. The Dublin Mid-West TD said he was “disappointed but not surprised” that sections of the report were given to the media before TDs.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“There are no surprises in the leaked sections of the Water Commission report leaked to the media today. The Commissions Terms of Reference and its membership were only ever going to recommend a water charge regime.
“I am disappointed but not surprised that sections of this report were leaked to the media before the final report was presented to the members of the soon to be established special committee on water charges. This shows the contempt that some in Government have for the Oireachtas.
“I have been saying for some time that I expected the Commission to recommend a water charge regime with a more ‘generous’ household allowance and waiver system. The real purpose of such a regime would be to try and get FineGael and Fianna Fail over the opposition of the majority of people who want this charge scrapped.
“If such a charging regime is introduced people should be in no doubt that over time the allowance will shrink and the waiver will be withdrawn. In the end households will end up paying at least €500 per year as originally proposed by Fianna Fáil back in 2010.
“Such a charging regime will also blow Irish Waters capital investment programme out of the water. It would significantly reduce Irish Water’s revenue stream and their ability to get off balance sheet. This will mean that their projected borrowings in the years ahead to invest in fixing our broken water system will not be achievable.
“The suspension of water charges and establishment of the Water Commission have been a waste of time and money. The €280,000 price tag on their Commission was about nothing more than enabling Fianna Fáil to facilitate Enda Kenny becoming Taoiseach.
“A majority of TDs elected to the 32nd Dáil stood on manifestos committing to abolishing water charges. It time to end the Fine Gael Fianna Fáil charade and allow the Oireachtas to finally decide on the future of this unwanted and unjust charge.”