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Political process in trouble - Gerry Adams TD

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD in a keynote statement today has warned that the “political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998.”

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



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Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada has today met with a delegation from IRD Duhallow in Brussels to discuss the plans of the Irish government to change the way in which LEADER funding is administered in this state.

Speaking following the meeting, Ní Riada said:

“Local development organisations such as IRD Duhallow have grave and pertinent concerns regarding the changes proposed by the Irish Government to the way LEADER funding is administered.

“The planned changes will see the management of funding being transferred away from local development partnerships to local authority led entities.

“Sinn Féin has been very vocal in our opposition to the government’s plan as it goes against the community-led, bottom-up approach which has been recognised by the EU as best-practice for local development.

“This is underscored by the fact that the Government’s plan has twice been presented to the European Commission and the proposals have been rejected on both occasions.

“We are also extremely concerned as the plans will see certain programmes being put out for public tendering. This will allow for-profit companies and multi-nationals to apply to run the programmes. Profit will become the central aim of the services.

“There will be especially devastating consequences for programmes centred on social inclusion and tackling poverty if local development organisations lose core programmes to for-profit companies. There is also the danger that many of these development organisations will be forced to close as they do not have the resources to compete with multi-nationals.

“We will lose the expertise built-up by these organisations and consequentially we will lose the community-based ethos at the heart of local development in Ireland.

“The reality is that the Government’s plan is focused on the privatisation of local development work.

“I will be putting Parliamentary Questions to the commission about the legality of the new structure proposed by the Irish government with a particular focus on the subcontracting of funding.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the decision by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, to approve a Foreshore Licence for maintenance dredging works at Annagassan Harbour, at Castlebellingham. The Minister has agreed that the licence should be issued to Louth County Council as a priority.

Gerry Adams said:

“Growing levels of sand and silt in Annagassan Harbour has left fishermen unable to berth their boats normally. Some have been unable to get down to their boats from the pier. They have also expressed concern at the growth of a silt bank at the entrance to the harbour.

"My colleague Councillor Pearse McGeough and I have been raising this issue for some time. We were told previously that there was no money form the Dept. of the Marine to carry out this work.

"Because of this problem fishermen using the Harbour have been refusing to pay their Harbour dues and this has led to a legal confrontation with Louth County Council sending solicitors letters out.

"Yesterday I received a response to a Parliamentary Question I had submitted to the Minister. In his reply the Minister confirms that a ‘Foreshore Licence under Section 3 of the 1933 Foreshore Act has been approved by me in respect of periodic maintenance dredging works at Annagassan Harbour, Castlebellingham, Co Louth. The Licence in question will issue to Louth County Council as a priority.’

"This is a welcome decision but it leaves unresolved the issue of compensation and harbour dues. We will continue to pursue this with Louth County Council.”


Note to Editor:

Parliamentary Question No.129 To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 641, when a determination will be made in respect of the foreshore licence application from Louth County Council relating to the proposed maintenance dredging at Annagassan Harbour; if he will consider compensation for the fishermen concerned including the payment of harbour dues that have been paid even though the fishermen have not had use of the harbour; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Gerry Adams.

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 25th June, 2014.Ref No: 27581/14

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: (Simon Coveney) A Foreshore Licence under Section 3 of the 1933 Foreshore Act has been approved by me in respect of periodic maintenance dredging works at Annagassan Harbour, Castlebellingham, Co Louth. The Licence in question will issue to Louth County Council as a priority.

As Annagassan Harbour functions under the authority of Louth County Council issues such as Harbour dues are a matter for the Council.

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Sinn Féin Justice and Equality Spokesperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, today launched the party’s LGBT rights document, Equality, Diversity, Solidarity – Fighting with PRIDE for LGBT rights in Ireland, and outlined its commitment to LGBT equality in Ireland.

Speaking after the event, Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“Sinn Féin is an Irish republican party and equality is at the core of all that we represent.

“Nothing less than full equality of rights and opportunities under law for the LGBT community should be tolerated in a modern, progressive and inclusive society.

“Sinn Féin has and will continue to work in solidarity with the LGBT community to create positive change in our society that will activate public and political support for full equal rights.

He continued:

“Today, we have outlined 10 Proposals for LGBT equality that we believe will lead to a more tolerant, rights based and equal society.

“The right to marry is a key issue and one of huge significance so we again call on the Government to set a date in 2015 for a constitutional referendum on marriage equality.

“Among the proposals, Sinn Féin aims to tackle work place discrimination against the LGBT community by amending Section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 to eliminate legalised discrimination against LGBT education and healthcare workers in the 26 Counties.

“My colleague, Jonathan O' Brien TD, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson put forward a Private Members Bill last year seeking to achieve this goal.

“My party colleague Aengus O' Snodaigh TD launched a comprehensive Gender Recognitionin Bill last year. Our party seek to enable transgender citizens to acquire a birth certificate appropriate to their gender identity as the foundation for a wider suite of rights.

“It is pivotal to legislate north and south for equal treatment of prospective LGBT parents in reproductive and adoptive services, and in related social and other public services to ensure the law treats all children equally regardless of family status or the sexual orientation or gender identity of their parents.

“To combat homophobic and transphobic violence, bullying and abuse we would seek to introduce into criminal law a provision that makes committing an offence with a homophobic or transphobic motivation or aim an aggravating circumstance allowing for a more severe penalty and update the incitement to hatred laws to address the use of the internet and social media to promote homophobic and transphobic messages.

“It is important that all political parties work together on this issue as the promotion and implementation of legislative changes for the rights of LGBT citizens is an urgent requirement for an equal society.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Ireland must add its voice to the backlash against the EU’s strict austerity rules at this week’s EU Council.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Enda Kenny must use this week’s EU Council meeting to add Ireland’s voice to the calls for a move away from the strict implementation of austerity rules. It is clear that there is momentum gathering to look again at the austerity rules which have proved so ineffective and damaging to the prospects of a social Europe. Sinn Féin’s opposition to the Austerity treaty has been proven to be well placed.

"I welcome the intervention from the Italian Prime Minister and French President calling for a relaxation of the budget rules. As we approach October’s budget the EU Commission is insisting on a €2bn cut in this State to keep on-side with these rules. It is blatantly in Ireland’s interests that these rules are relaxed. Ireland and Europe cannot afford more years of sticking to rigid and severe austerity demands.

"An Taoiseach must take a stance with those in favour of fairer, less harsh rules and against those who are wedded to strict implementation of austerity rules. This is an important debate and the government must side with the movement against the harsh binding austerity rules. If An Taoiseach is not willing to lead he can now at least follow.”

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Sinn Féin’s Ballyfermot Councillor Daithí Doolan has urged Dublin City Council, “to implement an emergency waste collection service as Greyhound will be on official strike from tomorrow.”

Cllr.Doolan said:

“As from tomorrow the staff at Greyhound will be on official strike. This is as a result of the management cutting wages by 30% and then locking the workers out of their work place last Tuesday. Serious questions must be asked of the Council’s tendering process that allowed a company in such financial difficulty to be allowed collect the city’s waste.

“SIPTU was left with no other option but to issue strike notice. This creates a potential public health crisis with domestic waste left uncollected by Greyhound. Already this week rubbish remains uncollected across Dublin. This is totally unacceptable. Households continue to pay Greyhound yet receive no service. I have written to the Chief Executive calling on him to implement an emergency plan to ensure that no one’s waste is left uncollected.

“Serious questions must be asked of the Council’s tendering process that allowed a company in such financial difficulty to be allowed collect the city’s waste.

“Domestic waste collection is an essential service and must not be left to private companies who are clearly incapable of providing a service. City Council must now step in provide the service with immediate effect and avoid any threat public health.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has welcomed the extension of the Warm Homes Scheme until March 2015. 

The Newry and Armagh MLA said; 

"This popular scheme had been due to end on june 18th but it has now been funded until March 2015 and that is to be welcomed.  

"Heating your home can be one of the biggest drains on the household budget so any assistance people can access to make their homes more energy efficient is helpful. 
"Under the Warms Homes Scheme households may be able to avail of a range of services including cavity wall insulation, loft installation, hot water tank jackets and energy advice

"For homes without oil or gas central heating, there is also the option of installing a new energy efficient system. 
"The full criteria for applications and and range of applicable benefits can be found on the website, www.warm-homes.com, but in general applicants must be in receipt of a benefit such as income support, Employment Support Allowance, housing benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit or Working Tax Credit. 

"People can also call 0800 988 0559 to check if they are eligible."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD was this morning at the launch of the party’s LGBT rights document, ‘Equality, Diversity, Solidarity: Fighting with Pride for LGBT Rights in Ireland’.

Taking part in the Press Conference this morning was Cllr Fintan Warfield (Mayor of South Dublin County Council); Cllr Emma Murphy; Gerry Adams TD and the party’s Justice and Equality spokesperson Pádraig MacLochlainn TD.

Gerry Adams said:

“Sinn Fein’s starting point on all issues of human and civil rights, and equality is the 1916 Proclamation. While it may be nearly 100 years old, for us it is a republican mission statement.

“It is our firm belief that all citizens are entitled to full equality before the law, regardless of their background, including sexual orientation or gender. Nothing less can be tolerated in a modern, progressive and inclusive society.

“Our document Equality, Diversity, Solidarity – Fighting with PRIDE for LGBT rights in Ireland catalogues the significant strides made over recent times in Ireland, north and south, in tackling political, societal and legal obstacles and discrimination facing LGBT citizens.

“Importantly, the document also sets out in clear terms the key challenges to advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

“It also states the actions required to eliminate discrimination and harassment, which many LGBT people experience in aspects of their daily lives.
“For our part, Sinn Féin has positively embraced these challenges in a practical way through campaigning and activism. The party remains firmly committed to working in solidarity to activate public and political support north and south.

“In the Constitutional Convention delegates delivered a decisive vote of 79% in favour of amending the constitution to provide for marriage equality. The three Sinn Féin delegates voted in favour of amending the Constitution to include a positive obligation on the State to give effect to a guarantee of marriage equality and to the equal rights of the children of these marriages.

“Sinn Féin welcomes the announcement by the Irish Government that it will hold a Referendum on Marriage Equality in 2015. However, it is imperative that an exact date is announced quickly.”

“Sinn Féin has had a formal policy on promoting LGBT equality for almost two decades, and an official presence at LGBT Pride events for many years, in addition to the legislative and other initiatives detailed. We are also committed to ensure that the party itself is a welcome place for LGBT republicans.

“To this end, we have appointed an LGBT officer to work together with other interested activists to further develop party policy, raise internal awareness of and publicly campaign on issues affecting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and

transgender people and their families.”

Link to Sinn Féin's LGBT document:

http://issuu.com/sinnfeinrepublicanyouth/docs/lgbt_document_june2014/0

Note to editor:

SINN FÉÍN’S 10 KEY PROPOSALS FOR LGBT EQUALITY

1. Eliminate legalised homophobic and transphobic discrimination against LGBT education and healthcare workers in the 26 Counties, by amending Section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011.

2. Amend the 1937 Constitution to include express equality protections for LGBT citizens and equal treatment for all family forms.

3. Set a date for a constitutional referendum on same-sex marriage.

4. Include express equality protections for LGBT citizens and prohibitions on homophobic and transphobic discrimination in the forthcoming Bill of Rights for the north.

5. Progress the northern Sexual Orientation Strategy, including legislation to provide for same-sex civil marriage.

6. Legislate north and south for equal treatment of prospective LGBT parents in reproductive and adoptive services, and in related social and other public services. Ensure the law treats all children equally regardless of family status or the sexual orientation or gender identity of their parents.

7. Introduce into criminal law a provision that makes committing an offence with a homophobic or transphobic motivation or aim an aggravating circumstance allowing for a more severe penalty.

8. Update the incitement to hatred laws to address the use of the internet and social media to promote homophobic and transphobic messages.

9. Legislate for mandatory rules to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

10.Introduce gender recognition legislation in the 26 Counties, to enable transgender citizens to acquire a birth certificate appropriate to their gender identity.

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, is investing £10million across the schools estate to improve energy efficiency.

The ‘spend to save’ initiative for 2014/15 aims to help schools improve their energy efficiency as well as cut energy costs.

John O’Dowd said:

“As a society we have a duty to be more energy efficient. Schools can play their part in this by using renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They can set an example across the community and within the school population. Through this example they can teach children about the benefits of sustainability and using renewable energy sources to mitigate against climate change.

“A portion of this £10million investment will be used for solar panels on schools. This particular energy source lends itself to educating people on the benefits to be achieved because it includes an indicator of output showing the energy produced and carbon dioxide emissions saved. 

“I want to ensure that schools are as energy efficient as possible and, in taking these vital steps, they are also educating young people about the global issue of climate change.”

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Speaking during the debate on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2014 in the Seanad today, Sinn Fein Senator Kathryn Reilly urged the government to use the opportunity created by the higher than expected PRSI in the Department of Social Protection to reverse some of the most cruel social welfare cuts.

She said:

“During her three years as a Labour Party Deputy Leader, a member of Cabinet and a Minister €1.5 billion was cut from the Social Protection Budget.

“That’s €1.5 billion that was taken from the pockets of the elderly, the disabled, children and carers. It’s also €1.5 billion that was drained from local economies costing us quality jobs, decent pay and conditions. There was an opportunity with this Bill to deliver the beginning of the stimulus that was needed. A stimulus that Sinn Féin has long argued is needed. But this Bill fails to do that.

“We are half way through the year and the department’s PRSI yield is already over €100 million greater than was anticipated by Budget 2014. There is now scope to seize the opportunity to use this Bill to provide some relief to those who have been pummelled by austerity. This Bill could be used to restore the €325 Respite Care Grant to over 85,000 people who are caring for a relative with a serious illness or disability that was cut in Budget 2013.

“The removal of the references to An Post as the named service provider for social welfare payments could have devastating implications for the survival of local post offices across this state. We have already seen so many post offices close. In my own county of Cavan, this has been common.

“The removal of An Post’s status creates the possibility of a multi-national company or bank acquiring the contract for social welfare payments in the place of post offices. The fundamental point here is that they provide an essential social service to communities; especially rural communities. The highest bidder for contract should not be the one who profits. This would not be in the best interests of payment recipients or the wider community.

“The Grant Thornton report highlighted how up to 557 out of 1,150 Post Offices could close if the social welfare contract was removed from An Post. The resulting impact would make the lives of those in rural communities, like in my own, incredibly difficult.”

ENDS

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Gerry Adams at Hungerstrike rally in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh