Sinn Féin Councillor for Ligoniel, Eoin O'Broin has slammed the sectarian attacks on cars travelling to Ligoniel last night. In all seven cars were damaged when bricks and bottles were thrown at them by loyalists. Speaking today, on the fourth day of a loyalist blockade of Ligoniel, Cllr O'Broin said:
"These attacks are purely sectarian and completely unacceptable. Last night at least seven cars were damaged when bricks and bottles were thrown at them by groups of loyalists at the junction of the Ligoniel Road and Crumlin Road.
"No doubt Nelson McCausland and the Orange Order will attempt to distance themselves from these attacks but they share responsibility through the heightening of sectarian tensions this weekend and their condoning of loyalist blockades of nationalist communities.
"I am calling on unionist political leaders to step away from aggressive and abrasive tactics and put an end to these protests. While everybody has the right to protest it cannot be used in order to stoke fear and promote sectarian tensions."ENDS
The four Sinn Féin councillors on Donegal County Council have today walked out of the authority's AGM after it became clear that they were being excluded from all committee positions and places on development boards. Cllrs Pearse Doherty, Tony McDaid, Thomas Pringle, and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn accused Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and IFF of conspiring to silence the 10,000 voters who had supported Sinn Féin in Donegal. They also accused the other parties of "Being worse than the DUP".
The leader of the Sinn Féin group on Donegal County Council, Thomas Pringle said:
"The establishment parties in Donegal have clearly learned nothing from the six counties. The more Sinn Féin are excluded, the more determined we are to represent our electorate. We will not be silenced. What happened here today was as bad as anything experienced in the bad old days of unionist dominance in the six counties".
"At the point that we walked out, 61 positions had been decided and Sinn Féin councillors did not receive even one. This contravenes the spirit of the 2001 Local Government Act which sought inclusivity and accountability. Furthermore, in the case of appointments to the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN), an important cross border body, it was made clear in communication to the council that the body sought gender balance and multi party involvement in the appointments. Fianna Fáil took three of the appointments out of four and not one woman was selected"
Cllr Pringle concluded
"Sinn Fein won nine seats on councils on Donegal. We gained almost 15% of the vote in the county. Cllr Pearse Doherty has a mandate of over 65,000 votes from the European Parliament election. Cllr Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and I topped the polls in our respective county council electoral areas. Following today, all of our councillors in Donegal will be even more determined to deliver on our contract with the people. We will fight for more accountability and less cronyism in our council chambers. We will make sure that the voice of the 10,000 people who supported us is heard".ENDS
Sinn Féin Councillor for Ligoniel, Eoin O'Broin, has stated that unionist and loyalist politicians need to bring an end to the two day old blockade of Ligoniel. He was speaking following the revelation that the protest will intensify over the weekend.
Speaking today Cllr O‚Broin said:
"For two days now this loyalist blockade has continued. We are now told by the protestors that it will happen again today and twice daily on both Saturday and Sunday. This is unacceptable.
"The nationalist community in Ligoniel has been severely disrupted by these protests. It has also created a real sense of fear and isolation. The motivation behind this blockade is purely sectarian.
"Unionist politicians and community leaders in Ballysillan have the capacity to bring this protest to an end and should do so with the utmost of urgency. In particular I am calling on the MP for the area Nigel Dodds to personally intervene."ENDS
July 9th, 2004
Sinn Féin Assembly member for Mid Ulster, Geraldine Dougan has welcomed the news that £480,000 is to be given to the Southern Board's Wraparound scheme to aid those with disabilities.
Mrs Dougan said:
"The wraparound scheme was launched in October 2001 to aid those with disabilities. Since then it has organised services and established a specialist child development clinic in each Trust area, improving services for disabled children and their families."
"I welcome news of this additional funding which will allow the Wraparound scheme to continue to make positive impacts and improve the quality of live for children with disabilities and their families". ENDS
Commenting on a threatening statement issued this morning by the Orange Order in Belfast, North Belfast Sinn Féin councillor Eoin O'Broin has said 'that he fears that the Order is putting in place a plan in conjunction with unionist paramilitaries to try and force the Parades Commissions hand'.
Cllr. O'Broin said:
"This mornings statement from the Orange Order is clearly threatening and comes in the wake of UDA organised blockades of Ligonel over the past two nights. I do fear that the Order is putting in place a plan in conjunction with unionist paramilitaries to try and force the Parades Commissions hand.
"The recent Parades Commission decision to buckle under threats from the Orange Order, unionist death squads and unionist politicians and force an unwanted parade along the Springfield Road has obviously given succour to those within the Order who believe that they can use the threat of violence to ensure the passage of parades through nationalist communities.
"The decision to block roads in Belfast on Monday harks back to the days of Drumcree when Orange Order inspired violence was unleashed year on year across the six counties and of course was directly responsible for the murder of the Quinn children in Ballymoney.
"The Orange Order in Belfast are clearly intent on heightening tensions at a time when many other groups are working tirelessly within interface communities in this city in order to secure a peaceful summer. This decision seeks to undermine much of that good work.
"It would suit the Orange Order better if instead of seeking to blockade nationalist communities in Belfast they began the process of entering into meaningful and constructive dialogue with them." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, accompanied by Michael Ferguson MLA and Councillor Paul Maskey, this morning met David Randall Interbrew's Supply Chain Director who has responsibility for the Glen Road Brewery and its future.
Speaking after their meeting Mr. Adams said:
"We expressed in frank terms our dissatisfaction with the manner in which Interbrew has dealt with the Glen Road site and the staff who work there. And we told Mr. Randall of the grave disquiet, which exists throughout this island, at an Interbrew strategy which appears only interested in how much of its products Irish people drink, as against its responsibilities to workers and their families, and the community they come from.
Most of our discussions focussed on what happens next. Sinn Féin‚s objective is to ensure the future viability and sustainability of brewing on the Glen Road and to protect the jobs that exist there.
We questioned Mr. Randall at length about his company‚s preparedness to facilitate a sale of the site as a going manufacturing brewery. For example what brewing and distribution contracts would be available to a potential buyer, and for how long? We also raised with him the understandable fears of workers about their redundancy arrangements in the event that the brewery is closed or sold off to someone else.
Michael Ferguson and Paul Maskey told him of their discussions yesterday with the British Economy Minister Barry Gardiner. And I relayed to Mr. Randall the Taoiseach‚s strong support in a meeting with me yesterday for a continuation of brewing on the Glen Road. We have agreed to remain in close contact."ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Human Rights Issues Caitriona Ruane has demanded that Paul Murphy give an explanation for his refusal to allow the Human Rights Commission access to the juvenile detention centre at Rathgael.
Ms Ruane said:
"In March 2002 the Human Rights Commission produced a report on conditions under which young people were being held by the juvenile justice system in the six counties. It made a total of 170 recommendations aimed at transforming what is a deeply flawed and outdated system.
"Since then however the NIO have repeatedly refused to allow the Human Rights Commission access to Rathgael to monitor progress in implementing the recommendations.
"This is a very serious situation. What are the NIO attempting to hide? Why is the Commission being denied what would seem straightforward access to a facility which has in the past come under major criticism for its practices.
"Many people will find it bizarre that Paul Murphy has allowed this situation to develop to the point where the Human Rights Commission has been forced to take legal action to carry out its duties in the face of opposition from Mr Murphy's department. It is time for Paul Murphy to give the public an explanation for his actions in allowing this situation to develop." ENDS
July 8th, 2004
Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly has criticised today's statement from Paul Murphy regarding the establishment of inquiries into three of the four cases demanded by Judge Cory. Mr Kelly said "while today marks a small measure of progress it has also left many serious issues outstanding ".
Mr Kelly said:
"The British government have been in possession of the Cory report since last October. In early April they published a censored version of Judge Cory's findings. Since then they have refused to hold an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and today they announced the commencement of the process to set up inquiries into the three other cases.
"However Paul Murphy's statement leaves a range of serious issues outstanding and lacks detail and clarity in a number of key areas.
- There are no Terms of Reference provided. Families and the public must be able to see what the Terms of Reference are. Anyone of any standing or integrity would need to know the Terms of Reference first before agreeing to take part. This is a key issue.
- Nothing said about powers - again another key issue. Powers of subpoena, entry, discovery; in other words all the powers of a judicial inquiry - to be able to compel witnesses to come forward, to seize documents, enter premises etc are vital if an inquiry is to succeed in getting to the truth.
- Who is going to be involved in the appointments process? Is there a role for the Irish government or is the British government going to conduct the entire appointments process itself.
- Timeframe - no commencement date has been set yet despite the fact that we are already nine months on from the delivery of Cory to the British government. Of equal importance there is no completion date by which a report has to be produced.
- Guarantees about the independence of the inquiries are crucial
- Paul Murphy's over-emphasis on money is a real concern. The costs incurred by the Bloody Sunday Tribunal rose significantly as a result of efforts by the British state, and particularly the MoD, to block the search for truth and justice.
"Clearly therefore, while some progress has been made there are still serious issues which need to be addressed by the British government before the public can have confidence that these inquiries will have the ability to reach the truth." ENDS
July 8th, 2004
Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Arthur Morgan TD has said that his party has very serious concerns regarding the changes to rent supplement announced by the Government . He described the changes as "reckless and short-sighted"
Deputy Morgan said:
"The changes announced by the Government in relation to the rent supplement scheme are not designed to address the needs of those who currently receive housing assistance in the form of rent supplement. The plan announced by Minister Coughlan and Minister of State Noel Ahern is merely designed to transfer responsibility for the housing needs of these people to underfunded local authorities. Why is the Government not announcing a major Social Housing Building Programme to address the needs of these people and the needs of all those currently on local authority social housing waiting lists? This measure is designed to take the heat off Noel Ahern and Mary Coughlan, both of whom have shown gross incompetence in their handling of the housing issue. They have shown complete disregard for the fact that changes brought in relation to rent supplement in the last 2 years have already contributed to the increasing levels of homelessness and have forced vulnerable people to remain in dangerous and unsuitable housing situations.
"The implications of the announcement is that people will be denied rent supplement after 18 months on the misleading basis that local authorities, which simply do not have the funds, will be able to address their housing needs. It is only logical to assume that If local authorities were in a position to address the housing needs of these people they would surely have done so before now. These changes will lead to increase levels of homelessness.
"The Minister spoke of •332m being spent on rent supplement payment to landlords in 2003 with no assets accruing to the state. Let us be clear, there is nothing in the plan outlined by the government that will change that situation. Under this scheme local authorities will be renting accommodation from private landlords. The Government is well aware that the best solution to the housing crisis in this state, as demonstrated in other jurisdictions, is investment in the construction of social housing with the aim of increasing significantly the percentage of social housing rental stock. The majority of the people currently in receipt of rent supplement should by right be accommodated in social housing. The reason they are not is because the government has failed to invest in social housing.
"The plans announced by the Government are reckless and short-sighted and will ultimately do nothing to address the housing needs of the people of this state."ENDS
July 8th, 2004
Upper Bann Sinn Féin Assembly member John O'Dowd has accused the Black Perceptory of 'creating a deliberate smokescreen after the Order sought to march down William Street in Lurgan to reach the train station'.
Mr O'Dowd said:
"The Loyal Orders are all aware that a parade through the William Street area of Lurgan is not acceptable. Despite this the Black Perceptary has sought to create a smokescreen by chartering a train and then demanding the right to march along William Street to reach the station to board the train and head off to Bangor for their parade. In previous years the Loyal Orders have chosen to use buses to get to parade venues.
"The issue however is not the use of the train as some within the Loyal Orders and the unionist media have sought to portray. The issue is the parade and the route it takes and the venue that it disperses at before the marchers board the train.
"I have met with the Parades Commission and have asked them to review the current determination which ends the march directly at the top of William Street. It is the view of the local community that the parade should terminate further up the town as to allow for a break in the parade before the loyal orders proceed down William Street to the train station.
"It is crucial that the good community relations which have been maintained within the Lurgan over the past number of years are not put under strain by what many local nationalists see as a cynical move by the Black Perceptory to force a parade through a nationalist area of the town." ENDS
July 8th, 2004
Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has slammed the comments by the PSNI Chief Constable, Hugh Orde regarding the loyalist rampage through the Mater Hospital following the Tour of the North parade.
Speaking today Mr Kelly said:
"Hugh Orde's comments come as no surprise. We are now very use to him using the policing board for politically charged comments. This latest statement is as good as legitimising what happened in the Mater Hospital following the Tour of the North.
"I would be interested in knowing what Mr Orde considers to be a riot. It is not good enough for him that over 40 youths went on the rampage within the hospital, a larger crowd outside tried to force their way in, while both staff and patients had to be locked into wards for their own safety.
"What is clear is that Hugh Orde seems to be on his own in this opinion. Representatives of all shades have spoken out and called this rampage for what it was." ENDS
South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has accused the British direct rule Minister Ian Pearson of 'totally abdicating his responsibilities regarding intimidation resulting from the flying of flags'. Mr Maskey's comments come after Ian Pearson refused to act over the erection of loyalist flags in the mixed Newton Park/Saintfield Road area of South Belfast.
Mr. Maskey said:
"In recent weeks I have been approached by residents in the Newton Park and Saintfield Road areas who felt intimidated by the erection of loyalist flags in the mixed area for the first time. I raised the residents concerns with the Minister responsible Ian Pearson and demanded immediate action from him.
"Mr Pearson has now responded and has basically refused to take any action for at least another two weeks when he claims a local PSNI member will endeavour to meet with the residents. In other words he is refusing to act to stop blatant intimidation and is supporting the continued flying of the flags over the twelfth period. I have to say that it is my view that Ian Pearson is completely abdicating his responsibility in this regard.
"Unionist political representatives also need to realise that defending the erection of unionist parafinalia in mixed areas is the same as condoning and encouraging the intimidation of the catholic population." ENDS
July 7th, 2004
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP this afternoon met with Senator George Mitchell in Belfast. Speaking after the meeting Mr McGuinness said:
"George Mitchell has made a very powerful contribution to the Irish Peace Process and is always a welcome visitor to Belfast. He continues to contribute to society here through his work with Queen's.
"This afternoon's meeting was an opportunity to present to Senator Mitchell Sinn Féin's view on the current state of the political process and on efforts to see the current impasse overcome.
"As someone who appreciates the importance and significance of inclusive dialogue and negotiations I made it clear to Senator Mitchell our firm belief that if progress is to be made in September then it is vital that all of the parties and the two governments put in the necessary work now." ENDS
Speaking during the State Airports Bill 2004 Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Seán Crowe TD said the Bill was "riddled with flaws" and that the Ministers plans to privatise public transport "should be resisted at every turn".
Deputy Crowe said, "Sinn Féin has already made its position clear regarding this Bill, through earlier interventions in the chambers and at Committee stage. We are totally against this legislation. The Minister's plans to privatise public transport should be resisted at every turn, not only in the interests of securing high standards in the Irish public transport system, but also in the interests of state-employed workers. The record of this Government in relation to transport has been wasteful and short-sighted, and as demonstrated through the Bill, even contradictory.
"For ideological reasons and without proper planning, the Minister for Transport proposes breaking up a national aviation service, privatising CIE and Aer Lingus and with tunnel vision he is set on ignoring the needs of people in favour of the interests of the private sector. Evidence from other countries indicates that privatisation does not resolve the problems surrounding public transport and the indications are that it will all come round full circle again with problems to do with the transfer of staff, remuneration issues and ongoing conflict within the transport field.
"Aer Rianta is perhaps the most glaring example of the ideological short-sightedness driving Government policy towards the public sector. By any standards Aer Rianta is a successful, profitable and productive company with prospects that have been nipped in the bud by this Government in the same way as Aer Lingus and CIE stand to be undermined at a time when all these companies started to show signs of coming round." ENDS
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, speaking in Dublin this morning before meeting the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, warned the two governments that "any effort to resolve outstanding issues in September will fail if the British government continue to try and abdicate any responsibility for the current crisis, or refuse to accept that it has a significant contribution to make to any agreement".
Mr Adams' remarks follow government briefings overnight around today's British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference, which suggest that the success of any talks in September will be down solely to republicans and the DUP.
Mr Adams said:
"While republicans and the DUP have important contributions to make to any possible deal in September, the British and Irish governments also have responsibility for key issues requiring resolution.
"In particular the British governments failure to tackle the issue of collusion, best illustrated by its refusal to hold an independent inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, is evidence of that governments appalling record on keeping commitments." ENDS
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP this evening met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen in Dublin as part of ongoing efforts to see the political impasse resolved. Speaking after the meeting Mr. McGuinness said that these efforts would continue in the coming period including a meeting tomorrow in Dublin between the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Mr McGuinness said:
"This evening I met with the Minister for Foreign Affiars Brian Cowen. I once again impressed upon the Irish government that everyone has a role to play in discussions to achieve an end to the political impasse.
"As part of these ongoing efforts Gerry Adams will meet with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tomorrow in Dublin.
"But if we are to achieve an end to the impasse by September then the work needs to be done now. The government's have a responsibility to ensure that all of the parties remain focused over the next few weeks on moving the situation forward. The process cannot simply be put into cold storage." ENDS
Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has expressed his "deep sense of anger and disappointment at the decision by the giant brewing company Interbrew to stop manufacturing on the Glen Road site, to sell off the brewery or close it by the start of next year if a buyer isn't found."
Speaking after meeting with Trade Union representatives from the brewery Mr Adams said:
"This is a devastating blow to workers their families and to the West Belfast Community.
It flies in the face of Interbrew‚s claim to be committed to a so-called Irish Growth Plan. In reality it would appear that this amounts to no more than encouraging Irish people to drink more but not to protecting the hundreds of workers who have given loyal service for many years. This is not good enough.
"This is an example of a globalisation strategy which places profit above people ˆ despite the fact that the Glen Road brewery is a viable, economic business.
"Goodwill by Interbrew could have kept this plant going.
"Our focus now has to be on trying to secure the future of this plant. I met separately with senior management and trade union representatives today. I will be meeting with Interbrew‚s senior international management on Thursday morning and we have raised this matter with both the Irish and British governments. Sinn Fein will continue to pursue this issue vigorously.
"Whatever the outcome of all of this one priority must be to protect the enhanced redundancy package due to workers from Interbrew." ENDS
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, MID Ulster MLA Francie Molloy has warned British direct rule Finance Minster Ian Pearson against underestimating the impact of departmental under spending.
Mr Molloy said:
"Ian Pearson may congratulate himself on marginal levels of under spending ˆ planned or accidental ˆ but what the figures disguise is the fact that under spending means that important projects have not got up and running; that maintenance and the capital building programme has been delayed and that vital support has not been fully distributed.
"In this context it is no surprise that the Department of Employment of Learning has an under spend of some £36 million ˆ £3million a month. We have levels of student debt and hardship that are unacceptable and we have parts of the Six Counties where long-term unemployment has not improved for generations. This is nothing to be complacent about.
"Only last week there was a damming report about the failure of the Department of Environment to protect the environment, when Sinn Féin called for the department to be stripped of such powers and the creation of an independent All Ireland Environmental Enforcement Agency. Today we see that they under spent almost £15 million pounds or 11% of their total budget. Such stark facts hardly provide compelling evidence about the success of the financial or political leadership of that department.
"I also have a particular concern about the high level of under spending on the EU Peace II programme. Discussions are underway that will be taken forward, by hopefully all of the parties, in Europe about the prospects of extending Peace II and agreement on a Peace III programme. This level of under spending hardly supports our making the case for either.
"However, the most worrying aspect about Ian Pearson‚s inability to appreciate the consequences of under spending is the reality that the Six Counties already receives a smaller percentage of all budget increases as a result of the unfair Barnett funding formula. All political parties are united in identifying the legacy of under funding by the British Treasury on our schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Any level of under spending undermines the argument for increased expenditure. It is time that the British government recognised that they have failed to invest fairly in the Six Counties and that it is time for a genuine peace dividend. If the Peace Process is to be sustained then the British government is going to have to meet its financial obligations."ENDS
Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the news from Nipsa that the British direct rule Minister Ian Pearson has finally agreed to enter a talks process to find a resolution to the ongoing civil service pay dispute.
Ms Gildernew said:
"At last it seems that public and political pressure on Ian Pearson to enter into talks with the civil service union has paid some dividends. I welcome the fact that Nipsa have now been contacted by the Minister and that dialogue is to take place.
"This step should have been taken months ago. It is a disgrace that both the public and the workers have had to suffer because of what can only be described as intransigence from the Minister and civil service management.
"It is vital that the Minister approaches these talks with the firm intention of finding an equitable resolution to the dispute. It is pointless entering into a process of dialogue with the Trade Union representatives if he is not committed to finding a resolution to this long running dispute." ENDS
County Wexford Sinn Féin Press Officer David Forde, who appeared at Wexford District Court this morning, following a summons by Wexford Borough Council for non payment of Domestic Bin Charges, has said that while Judge Peter Smithwick ruled in favour of the Borough Council, that his remarks in summing up amounted to an acknowledgement that these charges are fundamentally flawed and unfair.
David Forde said:
"Judge Smithwick's comments in summing up this morning that a flat rate charge for domestic refuse collection offers no incentive to householders to recycle or reduce waste and that other options than a flat rate charge are available, in essence amounts to an acknowledgement that these charges are fundamentally flawed and unfair.
"It remains Sinn Féin's position that these charges have nothing to do with good waste management practice but are used primarily as a revenue generating device by cash starved local councils who have been consistently underfunded by central government.
"The former Fianna Fáil Mayor of Wexford who had called for those who 'made the most noise' locally in protest at the Bin Charges to be the first to be prosecuted, clearly got his wish today in so far as he has seen a Sinn Féin spokesperson be the first to appear in Court in Wexford on this charge. However today's outcome will only serve to steel our resolve in campaigning against unfair stealth taxes that target ordinary householders.
"The entire waste management issue deserves proper and full debate, as does the issue of the underfunding of local authorities. These are stand alone issues and they should not be mischievously interlinked. It is the responsibility of central government to properly fund local authorities. It is also the responsibility of central government to promote a proper waste management policy. The onus must be taken away from the innocent householder and placed back where it rightly belongs." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as "disgraceful" the Taoiseach's confirmation during Questions in the Dáil today that the Irish Government had not sought full official and working status for the Irish language during its EU presidency.
In answer to a question from Deputy Ó Caoláin the Taoiseach said that the Government was still studying what form of further recognition for Irish to request from the EU. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"None of the EU member governments that the Taoiseach met repeatedly over the past six months has objected to full status for Irish.
"The Taoiseach has confirmed that the Government is looking for some non-existent halfway house. The Taoiseach must know that the procedure to be followed to achieve full working status is straightforward. The Government has to inform the Council of Ministers that the Irish Government wishes the Irish language to be an official working language of the European Union; it then has to request the European Commission to draft and put before the Council of Ministers the appropriate amendment to Regulation 1, 1958.
"The Taoiseach must realise that there is no half way house. Full status would be both a practical and a symbolic advance for the Irish language. He should accept the wishes of all parties in the Oireachtas and the overwhelming support for this proposal in the country, and act to make it happen."
Seasamh scanallach an Rialtais ar stadas
Dúirt Ceannaire Dála Shinn Féin Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin gur scanallach an rud é nár iarr an Rialtas ar an AE stadas iomlán a thabhairt don Ghaeilge le linn a uachtarántacht. D'admhaigh an Taoiseach sa Dáil inniu go raibh an Rialtas fós ag macnamh ar cén saghas stadas don Ghaeilge a iarrfadh siad ar an AE. Dúirt Ó Caoláin:
"Tá seasamh an Rialtais ar an gceist seo scanallach. Níl na ballstáit eile ag dul inár gcoinne do stadas iomlán, nó má tá níl sé ráite go hoscailte acu. Níl leath-bhealach idir stadas na Gaeilge mar atá sí faoi láthair agus stadas iomlán. Ba chóir don Taoiseach éisteacht le guth an phobail. Céim ar aghaidh don Ghaeilge sa tír seo agus san Eoraip a bheadh anseo. Ár bhféinmheas mar náisiún
atá i gceist. "
July 6th, 2004
Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, questioned Minister Joe Walsh on the crisis in farm incomes caused by inflationary pressures and the massive disparity between falling prices paid to farmers for their produce, and the price charged by the retail sector to consumers. Farmers are also losing out by having to pay grossly inflated prices for inputs such as fuel and energy.
Deputy Ferris said: "While the annual rate of inflation between 1995 and 2003 was 4.1%, motor fuels rose on average by over 7% and are now 50% higher than in 1995. Overall, energy costs have risen by over 43%.
"This has been a major contributory factor in the decline of farm incomes - in real terms - by almost 25% over the same period. Farmers also currently owe something in the region of €1.1 billion in debt which is equivalent to over 40% of total farm income.
"In contrast to the increases in input costs, in many cases well about the average inflation rate, the prices being earned by farmers for their products have mostly fallen. And yet the retail sector charges higher prices so that both the farmer and the consumer are losing out.
"To provide just one example, the average farmgate price per tonne for apples fell by over €100 between 1996 and last year. This means that of the price paid by supermarket customers at the present time, less than 20% goes to the people who grow the apples.
"Would the Minister agree that farmers are therefore paying the price for the fact that large multiple retailers can dictate prices to the disadvantage of farmers but at the same time charge higher prices to the consumer. And would he agree that this is something that his Department and perhaps the Competition authority should investigate." ENDS
Sinn Fein MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has slammed the decision taken by the Parades Commission to allow the contentious Orange marches to pass through the nationalist community of Ardoyne and Mountainview.
Speaking today Mr Kelly said:
"This is absolutely the wrong decision. The Orange Order time and time again have clearly broken the restrictions placed upon it by the Commission, yet the very same Commission fails to sanction them. People are now asking is this body just there to legitimise sectarian marches?
"Despite last years disgraceful triumphalism, with senior UDA members leading the march, and UVF and UDA flags clearly on display, the residents who objected to this march, protested peacefully and presented well documented evidence of these breaches have been completely ignored.
"I am calling on the Parades Commission to immediately reverse this decision and act as if it has the qualifications to recognise that they have made the wrong decision and once again rewarded the Orange Order for refusing to engage with nationalist residents."ENDS
Sinn Féin Chairperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has accused senior civil service management and NIO direct rule Ministers of grossly mismanaging the long running dispute with civil service staff. Mr McLaughlin said:
"The handling of this dispute by the senior civil service management and by the team of direct rule Ministers has been a disgrace. They have totally mismanaged the situation. The management of the situation in Derry over the past two days has been woefully inadequate.
"The result of mismanagement and poor leadership and inflexibility from the direct rule team is forcing thousands of people into unnecessary hardship, from pensioners to teachers, farmers to people wanting to MOT their car the impact of the failure to seek a genuine resolution to this dispute has been disastrous.
"It is time that Ian Pearson got on with the job of sorting this mess out. It is time for genuine talks without pre-conditions and it time for flexibility in discussing the legitimate issues around pay raised by the civil service unions." ENDS
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland speaking after meeting British NIO Education Minister Barry Gardiner this week said that Sinn Féin raised concerns about the ongoing dispute over teachers' pay including UPS2 pay scales, the delay in purchasing the site for the All Ireland Centre of Excellence for Children with Autism in Middletown, County Armagh, progress on the Costello report on the 11+ and the difficulties facing rural primary school principles.
Speaking today Mr Hyland said:
"While I appreciate that Barry Gardiner is new to his job it is vital that he get to grips with some of the central outstanding issues facing the department.
"The foot dragging by previous direct rule ministers, particularly in relation to the ending of the unfair and damaging 11+, the setting up of the All Ireland Centre of Excellence for Children with Autism in Middletown and teachers pay, must be addressed urgently.
"I am also concerned that there is little recognition of the pressures facing rural primary schools and the workloads of their principles." ENDS