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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



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey has urged the Justice Minister David Ford to show leadership and release Brendan Lillis. This follows a meeting today with the Justice Minister which included West Belfast MLA’s Jennifer McCann and Fra McCann.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

“The decision taken by the Life Sentence Review Commission not to release Brendan Lillis was the wrong decision and we made this clear to the Justice Minister pressing on him the need to overturn this decision andrelease Brendan Lillis immediately.

“David Ford listened to our concerns and stated that he was awaiting legal advice on this case. This advice needs to come as a matter of urgency.

“Brendan Lillis is currently critically ill, to ill to stand trial. He is currently 5stone 5lbs in weight and while this legal advice is awaited his health could deteriorate further.

“The continued imprisonment of Brendan Lillis does not serve the public interest and he should be released now on humanitarian grounds.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers Rights, Senator David Cullinane, has today challenged the Government to come clean and immediately publish cabinet proposals for Sunday work.

Senator Cullinane said:

“It is totally unacceptable that this controversial policy affecting 200,000 employees is being decided in secret.

“Sinn Féin predicted that further attacks on employees’ conditions would happen once
the Dáil went into recess without resolving the issues of Joint Labour Committies.

“The cabinet must publish their new proposals for Sunday work immediately and in the absence of Joint Labour Committees Minister Bruton must fully engage with the unions before any final proposals are signed off by the government.”

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Speaking in response to the move by Clúid Housing Association to buy NAMA-controlled houses for social housing, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Dessie Ellis has welcomed the move on the part of the housing associations but said that this alone could not solve the housing crisis.

Deputy Ellis said:

“I welcome the fact that there will be more units available for social housing through this initiative, however, the Government cannot shirk its responsibility in this matter and leave the provision of social housing to the voluntary sector.

“The voluntary sector does great work but the state has the overall responsibility and capability to provide housing.

“The government must begin to provide a social dividend from NAMA, using the vacant housing stock in its possession to provide units for people who have been waiting a very long time and have been failed time and again by successive governments.

“The Minister promised a radical shift in the approach to housing, if he meant passing the buck to the voluntary sector, it is not good enough.”

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill last night hosted a meeting with her southern counterpart and the north’s two farming unions.

CAP reform, disease eradication and animal welfare were the focus of the discussions at the meeting which was attended by Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and members of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association (NIAPA).


Speaking afterwards Michelle O'Neill said: "Today's meeting was a useful opportunity to discuss a number of areas of mutual interest and I am encouraged that Minister Coveney is interested in hearing the views of our two farming unions.


“CAP Reform is a critically important issue for us all and it is important that we have opportunities such as these to hold face to face discussions on the issue, especially given the fact that the south will be in the Presidency during the final stages of the negotiations.

“We also discussed further cooperation on disease eradication policies with a particular focus on achieving BR free status in the north.

"Finally, it was helpful to update the unions on progress with the All Island Animal Health Strategy with the ultimate aim of free movement of animals throughout the island of Ireland.”

Minister O’Neill concluded: “Agriculture is a sector which makes a huge economic contribution throughout Ireland. This is why it is of great importance that we continue to work together on the development of our respective animal health and welfare strategies to ensure we have a common approach where possible, which will in turn help the agri-food sector flourish across the island."

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He was speaking after attending a meeting between the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee and the heads of three Irish aid agencies working in the region, Concern, Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
"While the meeting agreed today that although Ireland's contribution of €7 million to this crisis, in proportion to our population, is to be commended, the international response has ranged from relatively poor to appalling.
“Much has been said of late about restoring Ireland's international reputation and here is an opportunity for Ireland to demonstrate moral leadership. Ireland and our wide range of aid agencies are respected across the world for being leaders in overseas aid and development. The recent visit by the former President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to Somalia has shone a light on the path for our government.
“Both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore must immediately engage with their EU and international counterparts to ensure that all countries contribute equally on a per capita basis to the US$1.87 billion target set by the UN. At this point, there is a shameful short fall of $850 million".
"There are serious questions about the commitment of the US and many EU countries to resolving this crisis and saving literally hundreds of thousands of lives. Furthermore, what of the G20 nations and gulf states who have been massively enriched by developments favourable to oil producing nations over recent years?"

He continued:
"In the medium to long term, there has to be a focused intervention in this region by the UN and the EU aimed at conflict resolution in Somalia and political stability in the entire Horn of Africa region.
“As Justin Kilcullen of Trócaire pointed out today, it is not drought in itself that kills so many people but dire poverty and the vulnerability to drought. A good starting point for the UN and the EU is to heed the advice of aid agencies operating in the region such as Concern, Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland as well as the many other heroic NGO volunteers on the ground".

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Speaking in advance of today’s Finance Committee briefing by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan on last Thursday’s EU summit deal, Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that, “Ireland would still need a second EU/IMF bailout despite the interest rate reduction”.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Sinn Féin welcomed the interest rate reduction secured at last Thursdays EU debt crisis summit. Indeed when the Government seemed to accept that the best deal on offer was a 0.6% reduction on new draw-downs Sinn Fein argued strongly for a 3% reduction on the basis that our European partners should not profit to the tune of €9 billion from emergency loans provided to Ireland.

“However notwithstanding the positive news of a 2% reduction in the interest rate payments and the availability of extended maturities it is my firm belief that in the second half of 2013 Ireland will be unable to return to the markets and will need additional financial intervention by the EU and IMF.

“I believe this because the EU summit failed to deal with the key issue underlying the Eurozone debt crisis, namely the unsustainability of the debt held by Greece and Ireland.

“The only way to end this Europe wide crisis is to reduce the overall level of debt held in the EU periphery. Ruling out private sector burden sharing and loss sharing with the ECB on the Anglo Irish promissory note effectively closes the door to any real resolution of Ireland’s debt crisis.

“Indeed the planned injection of €18 billion later this week by the Government in the new pillar banks will make such burden sharing even more difficult.

“The European Council accepted some level of private sector involvement in addressing the Greek debt. The Irish government needs to insist that a similar approach be extended to Ireland.

“Without such burden sharing there is simply no way that the Government can return to the markets in 2013. The only other course available to them will be to seek additional financial intervention from the EU and IMF, further extending the harsh reality of austerity beyond 2013.

“This will do nothing to reduce our debt burden, much of which is not sovereign debt but reckless private sector banking loans. It will also do nothing to assist economic recovery.

“We urgently need a new approach to that being pursued by the Government and their EU counterparts. This approach must be focused on reducing the debt in a meaningful way while investing in economic and social recovery.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast Jennifer McCann has again reiterated the call for the immediate release of Brendan Lillis on humanitarian grounds. Speaking following the decision by the Life Sentence Review Commission not to allow his release Ms McCann said:

“The decision by the Life Sentence Review Commission not to release Brendan Lillis is the wrong decision. This man is seriously ill, too ill indeed to stand trial. How can someone be a danger to the public when they are unfit to attend a court? There are strong concerns that the Commission will not meet again until late August to discuss Brendan Lillis’ medical condition.

“I will be meeting with the Justice Minister, David Ford tomorrow to discuss the ongoing situation in Maghaberry and I will be raising this case and pressing on David Forde the need for Brendan Lillis’ immediate release.

“The continued imprisonment of Brendan Lillis does not serve the public interest and he should be released now on humanitarian grounds.”

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Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has condemned the decision of the government to approve a new Household Charge of €100 as a pre-cursor to water charges and a property tax.

Speaking today after the cabinet approved the charge Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“By choosing to impose sweeping flat rate taxes on everyone the government is abandoning its pre and post election promises to protect the most vulnerable and families on low incomes.

“The implication of this charge will be that there is less money to spend in the local economy. This will further undermine the retail industry especially and lead to even more job losses in that sector.

“According to media reports today, Engineers Ireland have estimated that water meters will cost up to three times the government’s estimate of €500 million. Engineers Ireland are also reported to concur with my party’s assessment that if water meters are introduced it will take many, many years to even recover the cost of their installation and even longer to generate real savings.

“Instead of spending this money on installing meters the government should increase investment in the distribution and fixing the existing pipe network. This has the potential to save much more water and would pay for itself quicker. The money required to do this should be raised through progressive central taxation.” ENDS

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Concerns over PSNI Hands Off approach to loyalist violence - Kelly

Sinn Féin MLA and member of the Policing Board, Gerry Kelly, has said there are serious concerns that the PSNI have a hands off approach when it comes to dealing with loyalists who are involved in rioting.


Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“There are serious concerns being voiced over the approach taken by the PSNI in relation to those who are involved in rioting over the past year. There is a strong perception that there exists a hands off approach when it comes to the PSNI dealing with loyalist violence.

“To date there has been 59 people arrested in Belfast, Portadown and Derry for disturbances over the twelfth of July. Yet there have been no arrests over loyalist rioting in Ballyclare, Newtonabbey and Carrickfergus that saw 15 cars destroyed and a bus driven at the PSNI.

“This follows a similar patterns last year when 52 people were charged over rioting in Ardoyne yet only 1 loyalist was charged with two nights of rioting in Rathcoole in October and only 9 arrests following two nights of UVF attacks on the Short Strand a number of weeks ago.

“These figures point to an obvious disparity in the approach taken by the PSNI. Nothing can justify those who were responsible for rioting yet nothing can also justify these figures and the PSNI have serious questions to answer. 

“I have raised this at the Policing Board on a number of occasions and I will be pursuing this matter at further meetings.”

Videos

Peace and Reconciliation discussed at Féile


Photos

Gerry Adams at Hungerstrike rally in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh