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Michelle O’Neill has been named the new leader of Sinn Féin in the North.

Please watch and share this exclusive interview below which tells a bit of her life story as a mother of two from a small village in County Tyrone, her work in politics and in the Executive, standing up for equality, respect and integrity in government and continuing the work that Martin McGuinness has done stretching himself for peace and reconciliation.

You can view a biography of Michelle O’Neill here


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Sinn Féin TD for Waterford and member of the Public Accounts Committee David Cullinane said today that the National Asset Management Agency needs to stop spinning and start engaging with the issues raised by the Project Eagle sale process.

Deputy Cullinane said:

“Last week, the Public Accounts Committee heard from Brian Rowntree, former external member of NAMA’s  Northern Advisory Committee [NIAC] where he said that information of a commercial nature was discussed at the meetings.

“This was in relation to a residential land bank research report written by a team from the University of Ulster.

NAMA refuted Mr. Rowntree’s evidence and cited a September 2014 presentation that was given to the committee, saying that this was not provided to Frank Cushnahan as he had resigned from the committee ten months previous.

However, NAMA neglected to mention the detailed presentation from the University of Ulster team on the residential land bank that was given to the NIAC on 18 June 2012.

NAMA also neglected to mention in its press release that a full and detailed presentation entitled Spatial Analysis of Residential Development Land Banks in Northern Ireland was given to the NIAC by the University of Ulster team on 10 December 2012 which covered  among other things: research contextualization, residential land holdings (NAMA and all banks), land holdings by planning status, key observations bank portfolio and land holdings, housing pipeline based on planning consents, completed stock and work in progress, sign posting opportunities, and maintaining momentum going forward.

The University of Ulster research paper was again discussed at a NIAC meeting on 22 April 2013.

Frank Cushnahan was present at all these meetings, as well as having sight of the original 68-page report on which the presentations were based.

The final presentation, on 8 September 2014, was on separate research paper that utilized the original research and placed it within a wider spatial planning document. The minutes record that this report was sent onto the NI Minister for Finance and Personnel.

So, NAMA mentions the one presentation for which Frank Cushnahan was not present, but fails to mention the other three for which he was present.

This is hardly full disclosure and begs the question; what is NAMA playing at here?

Hopefully, its board members will be able to provide answers tomorrow when they appear before the Public Accounts Committee.” 

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will host a major conference on disability rights later this year. 

The Sinn Féin MEP said; 

"As vice chair of the European Parliament's intergroup on disability, I will be hosting a major international conference on disability rights later this year. 

"The 'United for Rights' conference will be held in the Carrickdale hotel, Carrickarnon on December 4. 

"It will bring together a range of experts to discuss issues around inclusion and dignity for people with disabilities. 

"We will also look at current rights provision and how those rights could be threatened by Brexit and the British government's plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. 

"It is vitally important that the rights of people with disabilities is protected and I'm looking forward to this event to inform future policy decisions."

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Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Jennifer McCann, has said there is no room for armed gangs on our streets. 

This follows the shooting of a man in Poleglass last night.

Speaking today Ms McCann said:

“"This shooting of a man in Poleglass was wrong and I condemn it. 

"There is no place for these type of actions in our society.

"I've said for a long time now there is no place in society for the armed gangs behind these attacks.

 "The message needs to be heard loud and clear in the community that these groups need to halt these attacks immediately."

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Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has congratulated the GAA and County Antrim Gaels after attending the official opening of the County's new centre of excellence at Dunsilly outside Antrim Town. 

The South Antrim MLA said:

"The official opening of the Dunsilly centre opens a new chapter in the promotion of Gaelic games here in Antrim.  It is also a landmark occasion in the history of the local club Naomh Comhghall GAC.

"This is the climax of a project now ten years in the making. Many difficulties and challenges have had to be overcome in the intervening period.  

"The £800,000 awarded by former DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilin, and substantial investment by the GAA itself were essential in getting here.

"The highlight of proceedings was the sight of hundreds of young Gaels both girls and boys, from across County Antrim, playing on the four new pitches.

"A new era has dawned for the development of Gaelic sports in County Antrim.  That is a tribute to the efforts of successive County Antrim Boards, and leadership of among others Frankie Quinn, Jim Murray, and current County Chairperson Collie Donnelly and his committee.  It is also testament to the efforts of Naomh Comhghall Chairperson Paddy Quinn and his committee.  Their contribution has been and remains central to the success of the Dunsilly centre. I wish them all well for the future.

"Most importantly, this official opening would never have been possible without the tenacity of so many local Gaels, including, Pauline Sloan, Enda Mc Auley senior, Tom Crilly, Gerard Magee, Jerry Holyoake, and Angela Callan. Dunsilly is a tribute to their collective efforts.

"I hope this phase will be a catalyst in helping to realise the overall strategic vision for Gaelic games at Dunsilly, and hastening completion of the Casement Park redevelopment. The GAA family in County Antrim, and all sports fans in Ulster and nationally deserve nothing less." 

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Speaking this morning following last night's shooting in Cherry Orchard, Cllr. Daithí Doolan, vice chairperson of Dublin City's Joint Policy Committee, said:

"Last night's shooting in Cherry Orchard was an attack on the entire community. Cherry Orchard has suffered enough violence. It is time for it to stop.

"Cherry Orchard must become a priority for this government, the Gardaí, Dublin City Council and political representatives.

"We must all redouble our efforts and work together to put an end to the recent gun violence."

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Speaking ahead of the launch of the Citizen's Assembly, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD reiterated her party's call for the Eight Amendment to be repealed and for the enactment of legislation to allow for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest.

She added that the Assembly, as evidenced by its poor structuring, will be seen as as just a tactic, introduced by the government and supported by Fianna Fáil, designed to further delay the matter being put to the people in a referendum.

Deputy O'Reilly said;

"Sinn Fein will campaign for the repeal of Eight Amendment and for legislation to be enacted to allow for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest.

"The matter must be put to the people in a referendum.

'While I wish the members of the Assembly well in their deliberations, the government's structuring of the initiative has rendered it an unnecessary exercise. It is departure from the broad inclusivity of the Constitutional Convention format, which worked well.

"A real Citizens' Assembly is the one that is elected by the people, not selected by a polling company.

"Sadly, this assembly will be seen as another tactic designed to delay the holding of a referendum.  

"The Taoiseach has promised swift action but the reality is that recommendations from the Constitutional Convention, convened by his previous administration, were never acted upon.

"Women are waiting for this legislation and the majority will be angered by having to wait even longer.

"The people have a right to their say on the issue of the Eight Amendment. The government and Fianna Fáil seem determined to delay that right.

"Sinn Féin's position is clear - there must be a referendum. We are calling for the repeal of the Eight Amendment and the enactment of the necessary legislation."

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Sinn Féin councillor Charlene O'Hara has condemned overnight incidents of car theft and death-driving in the Colin area of west Belfast. 

Councillor O'Hara said; 

"Two cars were stolen by death drivers in the Colin area of west Belfast last night night. 

"One of the cars was crashed into a nearby fence causing significant damage and the other has yet to be recovered. 

"Thankfully no-one was injured in these incidents but it causes considerable distress and expense to the vehicle owners and those who had their properties damaged. 

"There is no place for this type of behaviour in our society. We need to end the scourge of death driving and those responsible should be brought before the courts. 

"I would call on anyone with information on these incidents to bring it forward to the PSNI." 

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While wishing the members of the Citizens Assembly good luck in their deliberations which begin today, the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has criticised the government’s decision to establish a “much less effective structure” than that of the Constitutional Convention.

Teachta Adams said:”

“The Constitutional Convention worked very well. It was inclusive and broadly based with citizens and public representatives working together to reach agreement on important constitutional and political matters. The referendum success on marriage equality is just one example.

Regrettably the government, in framing the Citizens Assembly, has insisted on sticking rigidly to a much less effective structure, with no political representation and no voices from the north. This failure to appreciate the all-island imperative for future development is a serious mistake by the government.

Sinn Féin is very clear. The Eighth Amendment must go and it should be replaced in legislation. The report of the Citizens Assembly should go speedily to the Dáil and the government should expedite the process of holding the referendum. The future of the eighth amendment is ultimately a matter for the people.”

Teachta Adams added: “The Government accepted six recommendations for constitutional change from the Constitutional Convention. The Programme for Government proposes that referenda be held on a further two of these issues - the question of amending Article 40.6.1(i) of the Constitution to remove the offence of blasphemy. And for a referendum on Article 41.2.1° regarding a “woman’s life within the home”. We need to see progress from the government on these matters also.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has stated that "Brexit has reignited the ambitions of militarists within the European Union."

She added that Sinn Féin will oppose any increased militarisation and further erosion of Irish Neutrality when members of the EU Foreign Affairs committee meets next week to discuss the establishment of a European Defence Union, and that the party would bring a Bill before the Oireachtas to have neutrality enshrine in the constitution.

Boylan made the comments while speaking at a conference on protecting Ireland's neutrality in Dublin this morning this morning.

She said;

"Brexit has reignited the ambitions of the Militarists within the European Union.

"Four days after the result of the referendum in Britain, the French and German Foreign Ministers presented a position paper which centred on EU being able to employ high readiness forces and provide common financing for its operations and that the EU would need to take action more often in order to manage crises that directly affect its own security.

"The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, is seeking a European Military Budget stating 'For European Defence to be strong, the European Defence industry needs to innovate.  That is why we will propose before the end of the year a European Defence Fund to turbo boost research and innovation’

"It is clear that, in the coming weeks and months, the EU militarisation agenda will continue to be pushed.

"It is worth noting that Ireland with its so called Lisbon 2 ‘neutrality guarantees' is not seen as a barrier to a deeper EU defence Strategy.  If you listen to Minister Flanagan talk on the subject you can see why.  Only recently, he was on RTÉ Drivetime saying how important it was that the EU spoke with one voice on matters of defence.

"Make no mistake, a common EU defence policy is centred on creating a federal Europe and has little to do in the way of providing safety.

"Sinn Féin will oppose any increased militarisation and further erosion  of Irish Neutrality when members of the EU Foreign Affairs committee meets next week to discuss the establishment of a European Defence Union.

"Furthermore,  Sinn Féin will bring a Bill before the Oireachtas which will seek to enshrine neutrality in the Irish constitution."

"In sharp contrast to creeping militarisation agenda, the positive neutrality Sinn Féin supports calls for a redoubling of our efforts to focus on working with countries to implement global targets on issues such as poverty reduction, hunger, land rights, climate change, citizen participation, economic equality, and government accountability."

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Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has said the uncertainty caused by Brexit will hit those on low incomes hardest. 

Mr O'Dowd said; 

"The governor of the Bank of England has announced that inflation is a direct result of the financial uncertainty created by the recent EU referendum. 

"He also acknowledged that it would be those on low incomes who will be hit hardest as the price of food and other goods inevitably rises. 

"This, combined with the crippling austerity policies of the Tory government, is bad news for the least well off. 

"It also highlights the fact that people were sold a pup by the Tories in relation to Brexit. 

"It also underscores the need for the Remain vote of the people of the North to be respected."

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA and Seán Lynch MLA have attended the 'Understanding 1916 - Easter Rising' discussion in Enniskillen, jointly organised by the Fermanagh Orange Order, Church of Ireland, and local Presbyterians and Methodists.

Speaking after the event last night Declan Kearney said:

"I congratulate the Orange Order and the Protestant section of our community in Fermanagh for organising this discussion on the Easter Rising.

"I fully agree with the comments of the Grand Master Stuart Booker when he emphasised that such initiatives should not be about agreeing or disagreeing on our history but rather developing greater understanding through listening and speaking.

"I said in my own contribution from the floor that it is quite valid for us as a society to agree to disagree but that willingness to engage with each other on the basis of equality must be paramount.

"Engagement about our differences increases mutual understanding and that builds mutual respect.

"This is what our wider community needs.

"Willingness to engage was key to the accommodation on the North Belfast parade impasse.

"The efforts of the Orange, local residents, mediators and Sinn Féin in Ardoyne may now open the potential to resolving the small number of remaining parading disputes.

"That is a goal we should all aspire towards for the greater good of the peace process.

"Direct engagement, appreciation for each other, increased understanding and mutual respect are the basis upon which to discuss our historic and current cultural and political differences and societal divisions.

"This represents the way forward to building an inclusive, equal, agreed and shared future. I hope we can look forward to similar initiatives as that taken by the Orange and Protestant Churches in Fermanagh being organised elsewhere."

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Sinn Fein TD for Fingal Louise O’Reilly has today slammed the first time buyers’ scheme cooked up between the Government and Fianna Fáil. 

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“My office has already been contacted by families waiting to buy homes in Fingal who are gravely disappointed at the budget announcement.  They are desperate to purchase homes in our communities but cripplingly high rents mean they cannot save deposits; this scheme has simply forced up prices for new homes and far from helping them to buy is putting homes even further from reach. 

“We have the fastest growing and one of the youngest populations of any constituency. This scheme will have a severely negative impact on Fingal.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability Rights and Older People Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has expressed his deep sorrow following the death of Martin Naughton whom he described as a ‘formidable voice’ for those living with a disability.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“I had the great honour of knowing Martin personally over many years and it was with deep sadness that I learnt of his passing yesterday afternoon.

“Martin was a very able and forthright advocate on behalf of the wider disability community. Succinct and gifted, he was a formidable voice in the interest of people impacted by either a physical or an intellectual disability.

“His life-long work and struggle for equality for those with disabilities must live on. We should all re-double our efforts inspired by his faithful campaigning and tenacity.

“My condolences to Martin’s sisters and family and to all the bereaved.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said a new report is “proof positive” of the success of the Western Rail Corridor and urged the Government to “fast track” what he says is a key infrastructural project for the West.

A new report by Cicero Communications has found that the new Athenry to Ennis section of the Western Rail Corridor carried 102,000 passengers in 2015, more than double the numbers carried in 2014, exceeding Iarnrod Eireann forecasts.

Overall, the Galway -Limerick route carried more than 300,000 passengers in 2015.

Matt Carthy said:

“It is clear that passenger numbers on the Galway-Limerick route are growing faster rate than on any other route in the state.

“The figures compare very favourably with primary routes such as the Dublin–Belfast Enterprise service.

"I believe the Western Rail Corridor is a key element of infrastructure for the West of Ireland.

“The latest report is proof positive of the success of Galway-Limerick rail service.

“However, I believe the full potential of this service will only be realised and can only be judged on the completion of the project and it is vital for the West and for the country's overall transport infrastructure that the Government fast tracks this development.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin all Ireland spokesperson on mental health and suicide awareness Deputy Mary Lou McDonald expressed her concern at the figures released today for deaths by suicide and self-harm for 2013.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“The figures released today in the report by the National Office for Suicide Prevention on the number of deaths by suicide in 2013 make grim and stark reading. 

“487 deaths by suicide is a shocking figure, as is the high percentage of death by suicide amongst males.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that accurate figures for death by suicide are extremely hard to obtain. Many other cases of death by suicide have been recorded as accidental death when the individual may have died by suicide.

“The only way you can get real figures and a true insight as to the actually rate of death by suicide is by listening and talking to the families who have lost loved ones.

“According to the National Office for Suicide Prevention in 2013, 8,790 individuals presented with self-harm at hospitals around the country.  Accident and emergency departments do not offer appropriate care or follow up for those in acute mental distress. 

“What is required is the provision of 24/7 crisis intervention services when people most need help and which would offer adequate care saving people’s lives.

“Last Wednesday, I sought a cross-party commitment to such 24-7 crisis intervention services, an implementation plan and the delivery of the plan.   Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and those independents who supported the government voted against the private members motion. 

“The sad reality is that without adequate resources and the provision of proper services for those in acute mental distress, the figures for death by suicide and self-harm will only continue to increase.” 

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Leagan Gaeilge thíos 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Irish language, Peadar Tóibín TD, has said that the slashing of the budget for the Irish language shows the contempt the government has for our native tongue.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Tóibín said:

“The Irish language is not just the poor relation in this budget. It has treated by this government with sheer contempt.

“The 20 Year Strategy was launched a number of years ago with cross party support. It set out to achieve 250,000 Irish speakers by 2030. It’s in flitters. As it stands, Irish as a community language in the Gaeltacht will come to an end with this generation.

“In the years following 2008, the Irish language sector was cut by almost 90%. Last year against the tide, it was cut again and this year spending has been reduced by a further 9%.

“The Irish language is a key element of our identity, a key element of the linguistic diversity of the world, a key repository of the knowledge, literature, art and thinking of this nation for thousands of year of our nation flicked off the cabinet table into the budgetary bin. And that’s an absolute disgrace.” ENDS

An Ghaeilge caite amach mar bhruascar sa Bhuiseád –  Tóibín

Dúirt urlabhraí Shinn Féin ar an Ghaeilge, Peadar Tóibín gur léirigh an rialtas dímheas ar ár dteanga dhúchais ón chaoi ar deineadh ciorraithe móra ar bhuiséad na teanga.

Ag labhairt dó sa Dáil inné dúirt an Teachta Tóibín:

“Léirigh an rialtas an dímheas atá acu ar an Ghaeilge sa bhuiséád seo.

“Seoladh an Straitéis 20 Bliain roinnt blianta ó shin le tacaíocht ón uile-pháirtí. An cuspóir a bhí ann ná go mbeadh 250,000 lucht cainte Gaeilge faoin mbliain 2030. Tá sé sinina smidiríní anois. Mar atá sé, tá baol ann gurb é seo an ghlúin dheireanach le Gaeilge mar theanga phobail sa Ghaeltacht againn.  

“I ndiaidh 2008, déineadh nach mór 90% a ghearradh ón maoiniú don earnáil Ghaeilge. An bhliain seo caite, ag snámh i naghaidh easa, gearradh arís é agus i mbliana deineadh laghdú 9% ar mhaoiniú rialtais don Ghaeilge.

“Is cuid lárnach dár bhféiniúlacht í an Ghaeilge. Is gné thábhachtach d’eagsúlacht theanga domhanda í, stór eolais, litríocht, ealaíon agus smaointearacht í. Agus í caite gan stró ón mbord comhaireachta sa bhruascar. Agus is mór an náire é sin.” 

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Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly has said she is delighted that construction has commenced on 49 Co-op houses in Poppintree, Ballymun

Speaking from Poppintree today, Cllr Reilly said,

“I am absolutely delighted that the Sod Turning is taking place today in Poppintree. I live down the road and it is great to see the construction of new homes taking place in the neighbourhood.

“O’Cualann Cohousing Alliance has been instrumental in making this happen along with the members.

“The community has been trying to get this off the ground for over ten years, finally this year Dublin City Council came on board.

“There will 49 Owner Occupier units now in Poppintree all allocated for less than €180k for a three bed.

“O’Cualann could certainly give the Government a lesson or two in what is actually affordable housing. The housing action plan quotes €240k which we know is out of the reach of many families in need of housing.

“This is vitally important for the area given the tenure diversity strategy but it can’t stop there.

“The Government will not build anymore social housing units in the area so we need more developments like this and they need to support them alongside Dublin City Council.

“There is a large number of land banks in Ballymun all zoned for housing, now that Poppintree has started we need to look at other areas to replicate this model and create homes for people.” 

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Speaking today, Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis welcomed the start of construction of the development of 49 affordable homes in Poppintree.  Speaking after the sod turning ceremony to mark the start of construction, Deputy Ellis said:

“It is great to see this project starting especially by a housing body. Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance has committed to provide a fully integrated, mixed income, affordable, cooperative housing. I would welcome more opportunities for housing bodies to build in the city with the support of Local Authorities as it is an important contribution in solving our housing crisis.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has warned that Government inaction on fuel poverty in Budget 2017 will be felt by the most vulnerable this winter.

Teachta Brady said:

“Fine Gael and Labour cut the Fuel Allowance by 6 weeks from 32 weeks to 26 weeks in Budget 2012. This had a devastating impact on older people particularly, those living alone as well as for lone parents and those in low income households.

“Currently, 28% of households across this State are experiencing fuel poverty. We know that Ireland has the highest levels of excess winter mortality in Europe, with an estimated 2,800 excess deaths every winter. Yet, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have failed to address this in Budget 2017.

“The reality on the ground is that older people are sitting in public libraries, they are travelling on public transport and they are going to bed early just to stay warm. This is absolutely unacceptable.

“Due to the inaction of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael this week, this situation will continue.

“I raised this issue directly with Minister Varadkar at a recent Committee meeting and I asked him to increase the fuel allowance, this call went ignored.

“Sinn Féin's alternative budget included a 3 week increase in the Fuel Allowance payment as the first step to restoring it in full.” 

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has expressed his “deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and many friends Disability Rights activist Martin Naughton”.

Gerry Adams said:

“Martin was an extraordinary human being. He was hugely respected and was an example to all of us of the importance of inclusivity and equality for all citizens in society.

"He was a formidable and tireless campaigner for disability rights and a gifted and courageous activist. He contributed enormously to reshaping the public narrative, as well as government policy on the rights of citizens with disabilities. 

"Our task must be to complete his work and to ensure that disabled citizens are able to achieve their full rights and entitlements as human beings.

"I want to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and to his many friends. 

"Go ndeanfaidh dia trocaire ar a n’anam dílis."

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