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 Sinn Féin Junior Minister, Martina Anderson MLA has called on 'InterTradeIreland' to bring the EU 'Collaborate to Innovate' project event to Derry.

Martina Anderson said:

"The 'Collaborate to Innovate' project is designed to promote EU funding opportunities for collaborative innovation research available for SME's, academics and interested organisations across the Island. These events are organised by InterTradeIreland in conjunction with the European Commission Office as part of the European Research & Innovation Funding for SME programmes.

"The first of these events was held in Dublin in November of last year and a follow up event is to take place in Belfast on the 7th June. The event will give an overview of EU programmes accessible by SME's such as the new mechanisms of the EU Horizon 2020 programme. It will also provide 'opportunities for focused networking in an interactive and dynamic environment'.

"These events provide SME's opportunities to collaborate with potential partners from across the island and the EU to promote innovative business ideas and projects.

"I will be in contact with both InterTradeIreland and the European Commission Office to urge them to bring this information to Derry to facilitate SME's from Derry and Donegal."

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Speaking in the aftermath of anti-austerity election results in France, Greece, Italy, Britain and Germany Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said:

“The referendum on May 31st provides Irish citizens with an opportunity to demand change and to join the growing European wide movement for an end to austerity, as well as investment in jobs and growth.”

Teachta Adams said: “A resounding No vote on May 31st will strengthen the hand of all those, here and across Europe, who oppose austerity.

“A No vote on May 31st will be a vote for jobs.”

The Sinn Féin President said:

“The elections in France, Greece, Italy, Britain and Germany saw the electorate reject austerity. They know that austerity isn’t working.

“The referendum on May 31st provides Irish citizens with an opportunity to join the growing European wide movement for investment in jobs and growth.

“A strong NO vote will ensure that this goes beyond rhetoric.

“The Austerity Treaty, if passed, will copper-fasten austerity policies and lead to further substantial cuts to public services, increased unemployment and emigration.

“Citizens who have lost their jobs and have seen their standard of living fall under Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil are incredulous when they listen to government Ministers cynically try to adopt the French and European demand for Jobs and growth.

“Citizens are not fooled by this.

“A resounding No vote on May 31st will strengthen the hand of all those, here and across Europe, who oppose austerity.

“A No vote on May 31st will be a vote for jobs.” ENDS

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Responding to remarks by the SDLP MLA Alban Maginness indicating that his party was minded to support Jim Allister’s discrimination bill against former prisoners, Sinn Fein Assembly member Raymond McCartney said:

“The assertion by Alban Maginness that the SDLP are likely to support the Jim Allister Bill which discriminates against ex political prisoners represents another retrograde step by his party.

Many former political prisoners played a key role in the development of the peace process. Their contribution has been widely recognised by the majority of nationalists. Indeed many of them hold elected office, including Executive positions.

It is discriminatory to bar ex prisoners from working as advisors to Ministers. Many will question the motivation of the SDLP in positioning themselves in support of discriminatory practice in government.”

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Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that the election results in France and Greece are “a massive blow against the failed policies of austerity in Ireland and across Europe.” The Dublin Central TD said “A No vote in Ireland on May 31st will strengthen the hand of all those arguing for jobs and growth.”

Deputy McDonald

“Yesterday’s election results in France and Greece are a massive blow against the failed policy of austerity. People are sending a clear signal that austerity is not working and that a new approach based on jobs and growth must be found.

 “Claims by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore that the Fine Gael Labour Government share the new French President’s growth agenda are cynical in the extreme. Francois Hollande is opposed to the Austerity Treaty in its current form.  Eamon Gilmore is an enthusiastic supporter of the Treaty. Francois Hollande is standing up for French interests and demanding investment in growth. Eamon Gilmore is implementing a right-wing Fine Gael agenda of cuts, tax hikes and state asset sales

“Unemployment is at a record high despite massive emigration. At the end of April there were 436,000 signing on. Eurozone unemployment has reached an all-time high of 10.9%. The Eurozone recession is slowing our export growth. The domestic economy and one of our primary export markets are both in recession.

“At a time when the Irish and Eurozone economies desperately need investment in jobs and growth, the Government and their EU counterparts are proposing the very opposite.

“The Austerity Treaty is bad for jobs and for growth. If passed it will hamper any prospect of economic recovery.

“This weekend’s election results have shaken the pro austerity forces across Europe. However they have not been dealt a knock-out blow. On May 31st the people of this state must reinforce the message from France and Greece that austerity is not working.  A No vote in Ireland will strengthen the hand of all those arguing for jobs and growth.” 

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Speaking as the results of the French and Greek elections come in Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn said that “the people of France and Greece have said No to austerity and by a clear majority supported parties arguing against austerity and in favour of investment in jobs and growth.”

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“Election results in Greece and France tonight have dealt a body blow to the policies of austerity and to the Austerity Treaty. In France an anti Treaty President has won the election. In Greece those arguing against austerity have roundly defeated pro-austerity parties.

“The significance of these elections for Ireland is clear. Just as France and Greece have rejected austerity so too should the people of this state.

“While Fine Gael and Labour continue to support the failed policies of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, the electorates of France and Greece have said enough is enough. People have had enough of austerity and want a new approach.

“Political leaders across Europe must take notice. They cannot continue with the failed policies of austerity. They must listen to the democratically expressed wishes of people in France and Greece.

“On May 31st the electorate in this state must follow the lead of people in France and Greece in opposing austerity. Voting against the Austerity Treaty will strengthen the hand of the growing European wide movement against austerity and strengthen the demand for investment in jobs and growth.” 

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Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has today challenged Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to “produce his figures on the cost of a Yes vote in the Austerity Treaty referendum”.

The challenge comes as the Government rejected Sinn Féin’s claim that a Yes vote on May 31st will lead to an additional €6 billion fiscal consolidation post 2015.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The Government has a responsibility to explain to people the cost of a Yes vote. If the Treaty is passed we will have to reach a structural deficit of 0.5% after we exit the current Troika austerity programme in 2015.

“According to the Department of Finance’s own Spring Forecast published last week the structural deficit in 2015 will be 3.5%. The gap between this figure and the new 0.5% rule is equivalent to approximately €6 billion.

“The Government has a responsibility to explain to the voters where they will get this money from. Is it their intention to further increase the tax burden on low and middle-income families? Is it their intention to cut even more funding from front line education, health and community services?

“If the Government does not accept Sinn Féin’s figures they should produce their own forecasts for the years immediately after 2015 to support their case. We have been asking them to do this since March of this year and they have refused.

“So today I am challenging the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to publish his figures and then to debate those figures publicly with me to allow the voters to decide for themselves the real cost of a Yes vote.” 

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Speaking at an event in Belfast this evening on the 31st anniversary of the death on Hunger Strike of Bobby Sands, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

 “Bobby Sands and his comrades were genuine republicans. They were selfless in their patriotic idealism. They were dedicated to achieving an Ireland that was united and to a real republic where the people were in control of their own affairs, where the interests of citizens come first.

 “That is the type of Ireland for which Sinn Féin is working. We are not interested in sham republicanism nor in allowing Ireland to be run from London, Brussels or Strasbourg.

"That is why we are opposed to the Austerity Treaty on which people will have their say in a few short weeks. In that endeavour we are up against the political establishment of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil — the consensus for cuts.

“The recent rash of bellicose statements by Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin are a clear attempt to make his party relevant at a time when it is in in complete disarray.

“We are daily witnessing outright defiance of Deputy Martin’s leadership of Fianna Fáil by no less a figure than a grandson of the party’s founder.

“People can also see that Mícheál Martin’s party is impotent in the Dáil as its TDs can hardly object to the Fine Gael/Labour coalition implementing Fianna Fáil policies.

“For the Fianna Fáil leadership this referendum is all about the party. But for genuine republicans it is about the future of Ireland, our ability to control our own affairs and the building of a real republic where the interests of Irish citizens come first.”

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Speaking during a canvass in Neilstown, North Clondalkin Sinn Féin representative and campaign director Eoin Ó Broin said that, “every single house we called to said they were voting No to the Austerity Treaty”.

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said, “the clear message on the doors today is that people have had enough of the cuts and stealth charges of Fine Gael and Labour and will not support a Treaty that means more cuts.”

Ó Broin said:

“Neilstown in North Clondalkin is like many communities across the state. People here are experiencing first-hand the disastrous impact of the tax hikes and cutbacks of the Fine Gael and Labour government. Families are struggling every day with unemployment, loss of vital public and community services, social welfare cuts and stealth charges.

“Every single house we canvassed today said they were opposed to the Austerity Treaty and intended to vote No on May 31st. The main reason they were opposing the Treaty is because they were opposed to more cuts and tax hikes in the future.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Today’s canvass was very encouraging. People were engaged with the issues, were following the debate and clearly understood the costs of a Yes vote.

“If this kind of reaction is mirrored elsewhere in the country then the Government is going to have a very hard job passing this Treaty.

“People were also angry with the Government’s attempts to bully the electorate and in many cases told us that the scaremongering by the Yes side was strengthening their resolve to vote No.” 

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Meath Sinn Féin councillor Joe Reilly will this weekend represent the party at the Red-Green Alliance conference in Copenhagen.

Councillor Reilly will put forward Sinn Féin’s position on the upcoming Austerity Treaty referendum at the conference.

Speaking in advance of the conference Councillor Reilly said:

“Europe is deeply divided over this Treaty, with Labour parties in Germany, France and the Netherlands refusing to support it and with growing opposition from the trade union movement including the European Trade Union Confederation.  There are more and more people across Europe calling for jobs and growth as a direct alternative to the policy of austerity, bank bailouts and cuts.

 “The Austerity Treaty will not solve the Eurozone crisis and will in fact make matters worse.  It is bad economics and bad politics. It seeks to impose right wing austerity policies on Irish and EU governments for years to come. I look forward to putting across the case for a No vote at the Red-Green alliance conference in Copenhagen this weekend.”

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Education Minister, John O’Dowd, today attended the official opening of new accommodation for Gaelscoil Éanna, an Irish-medium primary school in Glengormley.

The ceremony was also attended by legendary GAA commentator, Micheál O Muirecheartaigh, a former teacher with a keen interest in Irish-medium education. The new modular style building comprises three classrooms, a resource space, staffroom, toilets and cloakrooms. In addition, new play areas and car parking facilities have been provided.

The Minister said:

“I welcome the opportunity to attend the opening of the new accommodation for Gaelscoil Éanna and would like to thank those involved for their kind invitation. The Irish language is an integral part of our rich and shared heritage, and I take great pride in witnessing and being part of a sector that continues to thrive and grow educationally and economically.

“It is a pleasure to be associated with the opening of such wonderful new facilities, funding for which will be drawn from the £2million Accommodation Fund announced by my predecessor Caitríona Ruane in 2010. This represents a substantial investment by my Department which will go a long way in addressing the needs of children in the Glengormley area.”The Minister continued: 

“I would like to congratulate all involved in this new project especially the Principal, Maighréad Ní Chonghaile, the Board of Governors and Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta. I commend them for all the hard work they have undertaken to reach this very exciting stage for the future development of Gaelscoil Éanna.

“The school is now well equipped to enable it to deliver the curriculum and meet the needs of its pupils for many years to come. I wish all involved with the school every success for the future.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Francie Molloy said that it was clear from the inquest into the deaths of IRA Volunteers Dessie Grew and Martin McCaughey that they were summarily executed.

Francie Molly said:

“The provision of an inquest system which complies with international human rights standards is a key part of transforming the justice system. Like other parts of the justice system, a coroner’s court must engender confidence in the administration of justice.

“This inquest verdict diminishes both the justice system and public confidence in the defence of human rights. The families of those killed have the same rights as every other bereaved family. The outcome of this inquest will only serve to reinforce the view that Irish republicans and their families are not treated equally to others.

“One irrefutable fact was established. The British State used lethal force to execute two Irish citizens in their own country. To describe this as reasonable is an outrage

“Dessie Grew and Martin McCaughey were courageous IRA Volunteers. It is clear from the evidence produced at the inquest that they were executed in a shoot-to-kill operation by the British State.

“Sinn Féin respect the memory of Dessie and Martin and hundreds of other volunteers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war. Our thoughts at this time are with their families and friends."

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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said that another shooting and maiming of a young person in Twinbrook will solve nothing and is unacceptable.

The 18-year-old was shot in the legs in the Thornhill area of Twinbrook last night. Jennifer McCann, a West Belfast MLA and member of the Assembly’s Justice Committee said:

“This type of action does nothing but maim another young person. It is one of a number of shootings in the area in recent times and is totally unacceptable.

“As has been proven in the past these type of shootings will do nothing to solve anti-social and criminal activity. I call on the groups involved in these shootings to end this futility and leave the people of the area, along with the statutory agencies and the PSNI, to build on making the area a safer place for residents and bring about long-term, sustainable solutions to any problems."

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Speaking today at the launch of the Sinn Féin Austerity Treaty referendum poster campaign Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD said, “The choice before the people on May 31st is clear, people must decide if they are for more austerity or for investment in jobs and growth.”

Deputy Adams said:

“I want to welcome the recent interest in jobs and growth from the Yes side in the referendum campaign. But talking about jobs doesn’t get people off the dole. To create jobs you have to invest.

“You cannot create jobs by cutting €8.6 billion from the domestic economy. Yet this is what Fine Gael and Labour have signed up to. And if we vote yes to the Austerity Treaty on May 31st we will be signing up to a further €6 billion in cuts and tax hikes post 2015.

“The impact of all of these cuts and tax increases will be to further damage the domestic economy resulting in further jobs losses.

“The Government is talking jobs while implementing austerity. It simply makes no sense.

“On May 31st people have a clear choice between more austerity or investment in jobs and growth.” 

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This morning Sinn Fein's spokespersons on Rural Affairs, Deputy Martin Ferris and Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh began their consultation and engagement with Rural Ireland.

After a very successful campaign launch by party president, Gerry Adams TD in Castlebar, Co Mayo, the two spokespeople will embark on a tour of the country where they will meet various groups who are being affected by the savage cuts being imposed on rural Ireland.

The first stop is West Cork where they are meeting with individuals and groups during the day, followed by a public meeting tonight in Sherene Hall, Ovens at 8pm.

Next week both Rural Ireland spokespeople along with Gerry Adams TD and Michelle O Neill MLA, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development will be in Leitrim and Roscommon as part of the consultation process too. This trip will include a public meeting in The Landmark Hotel, Carrick-On-Shannon at 8pm

These are the first in a series of meetings Sinn Féin will be holding across the state as part of a consultation process with rural Ireland.

Our goal is to produce a plan for the regeneration and growth of rural communities.

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Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on environment, community & local government, Brian Stanley TD and Assembly economic spokesperson, Conor Murphy MLA, today launched Sinn Féin’s policy paper reform of water services.

Speaking at the launch Stanley said: “Today Sinn Féin has clearly outlined our alternative to water meters and water charges.
The government’s arguments in favour of water rates simply do not stand up. The evidence indicates that the establishment of Irish Water and the introduction of water rates is more about privatisation than about conservation. Water meters and water charges does not encourage conservation. What does guarantee conservation is investing in the water sector, reducing the unacceptably high percentage of leaks and introducing water harvesting and dual flush systems as part of building regulations.”

Sinn Féin’s policy paper is calling for:

The establishment of a National Water Sector Framework Team.
This team would oversee governance of the water sector and capital investment for the sector. It would be made up of assistant city & county managers with responsibility for engineering and it would be convened and chaired by Secretary General of the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government. Sinn Féin Recommendations on Reform of the Water Sector
The introduction of block metering as opposed to installing domestic water meters in every household.
Sinn Féin does not support the installation of domestic metering. We support the introduction of district metering. This allows for local authorities to monitor water usage and leakage at neighbourhood level. We are opposed to household charging and therefore metering as a means to measure usage on this basis.
According to the Irish Academy of Engineers the cost of meter installation will be at least €500 million. This €500 million would fund the water conservation strategy for six years. It would be far more appropriate to invest the €500 in water conservation rather than meter installation.
Water metering does not reduce water consumption. The British-based, Environmental Agency outlined that in England, where water metering has been in place for many years, consumption is at 158 litters per head per day. While in Dublin the Dublin Water Supply Report of 2008 showed consumption is at 148 litres per head per day.
Return to at least 2011 level of capital spending on the water system. Capital investment in water is being cut from almost €435 million in 2011 to €331 million in 2012.
That’s a cut of €100 million or almost 25%. It’s a cut of nearly €200 million on the 2010 allocation, with more cuts planned until the budget is just €266 million. Clearly it is not the householder, but the water distribution network, that is the biggest culprit when it comes to water waste. The state’s water distribution network is antiquated. A decade of under-investment means that in some local authority areas more than half the water is leaking away. Sinn Féin calls for increased capital spending on the water system. We would strongly argue that there be a return to at least the 2011 level of capital funding. This investment will save money in the short, medium and long term. The average loss through leakage is 36%. It will guarantee the delivery of clean water, act as a significant economic stimulus and will prevent further water loss through leaks.
The government to take action on the outstanding water rates owed to the state by the commercial sector. While the Minister’s proposals are focused on the domestic householder there is not mention of the debt owed by the commercial sector. Only 52% of commercial water rates are collected. So it appears that household are being penalised for lack of building planning, leaking pipes and general poor governance. The Government must take action on the outstanding water rates owed to the state by the commercial sector.
Development an All-Ireland strategy on water provision.
There are 34 local authorities supplying water to nearly two million households while a whole other structure, NI Water, delivers a similar service across the border. With eight river basin districts covering both sides of the border, Sinn Féin wants to see a real coordination of resources on an All-Ireland basis. There is a requirement on both the Assembly/Executive and Irish Government to collaborate on the delivery of services going into the future where shared resources, joint capital investment in infrastructure and procurement amongst other matters would clearly prove beneficial not only in border regions, but also more widely on an all-Ireland basis.

Conor Murphy MLA explained, “As Assembly minister with responsibility for water services I blocked any attempt to introduce water rates. Westminster tried to bully us into imposing water charges, we successfully resisted this. We invested £1 billion over four years, £1 million every day, without ever introducing water rates.
“This money was raised through inter departmental savings. Up to 6% was saved through efficiencies. This money was used to upgrade the water system. The Irish government are wrong to say that all citizens in the EU pay water rates. I can safely say water rates is off the agenda in the northern Assembly.”

During today’s Dáil Question Time, Stanley asked the Minister for environment: “To reconsider the proposal to introduce water meters and water charges as metering is not an option for one third of households in Dublin. The government would be better off diverting money away from water meters and investing it in upgrading our water service. Water leakage is at 41%, no amount of water meters or water rates will reduce that. Capital investment must be increased to improve our aging, collapsing water sector.”

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Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn TD and his Assembly colleague Conor Murphy MP MLA today briefed the Diplomatic Corp in Leinster House. Speaking after the briefing Deputy Mac Lochlainn said the Austerity Treaty is bad for both Ireland and Europe.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“The austerity treaty will not solve Ireland’s economic problems or the European economic crisis. In fact by enshrining austerity the treaty can only prolong the crisis and the hardships ordinary people are suffering as a result.

“Today Sinn Féin briefed the Diplomatic Corp in Leinster House setting out our clear view that this treaty will be a disaster for Ireland and for Europe and that it must be opposed.

“The government and Fianna Fáil are once again attempting to bully the Irish people into accepting a proposal that is not in Irish interests.

“Sinn Féin has answered the question of emergency funding in the case of a no vote but we have yet to see anyone on the yes side answer the question of where cuts will be made to facilitate the extra €6billion of austerity if the treaty is ratified.

“This question must be put to those on the yes side. Sinn Féin is up for this debate and we will campaign vigorously in opposition to this treaty.” ENDS

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Responding to Tuesday night’s BBC programme on the response of Cardinal Sean Brady in a church investigation into child abuse carried out by Fr. Brendan Smith, Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness said:

“Two years ago when this issue first emerged, I described the situation as grave and said that Cardinal Brady should consider his position.

“I think that many Catholics, of which I am one, Catholic priests amongst whom I have many good friends and the public in general will be dismayed at these new allegations.

“Ultimately Cardinal Brady’s response is a matter for himself and the Church, but it is a very grave situation for survivors of abuse, for the Catholic Church and for Catholics across Ireland.

“Cardinal Brady has responded to calls for his resignation by saying he will continue on as leader of Ireland’s Catholics.

“Speaking personally I believe he should reflect on the wisdom of this position which will leave many Catholics wondering whether anything is to be done by the leadership of the Catholic Church to ring the changes which many believe are required at such a sad time for all.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has said that community groups and voluntary organisations should apply for the Rural Transport Voucher when organising trips over the months of July August and September.

Mr Hazzard stated:

“The scheme that is operated throughout the three summer months allows groups to apply for a £100 voucher which can be used towards the cost of transport when going on excursions and trips.

“Many rural community groups would like to take their patrons away for a day but find the cost of hiring transport excessive and this scheme can help those groups by making the cost more affordable.

“Groups need to apply before the 31st May 2012 to be eligible for the voucher and should apply through the Rural Community Transport Partnership or the Department of Regional Development.

“I would encourage all community and voluntary groups that usually partake in excursions through the months of July August and September to get their applications in as soon as possible so that they meet the deadline.”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today announced that the party’s MEP representing the north, Bairbre de Brún, has submitted her resignation to the European Parliament.

 Mr Adams said:

“Bairbre de Brún has submitted her resignation as MEP to the European Parliament. Bairbre has taken this decision for personal reasons and I would ask that the media and others respect her privacy in this matter.

 “I have worked closely with Bairbre for over 30 years in the leadership of Sinn Féin. She has served diligently and effectively in a variety of roles including head of our International Department, a Good Friday Agreement negotiator, an MLA for west Belfast, a Minister in the Executive and latterly as MEP for the six counties. She topped the poll in the 2009 European elections.

 “While Bairbre has resigned from her current position in the European Parliament, she remains a senior figure within Sinn Féin.

 “The party will now begin the task of selecting a new MEP. A convention will be held.

“I thank Bairbre for her work over many years and for her friendship and look forward to working with her in the future. Republicans everywhere I am sure will join me in extending best wishes."

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Sue Ramsey has welcomed the Facebook link to allow more people to sign up for organ donation.

Ms Ramsey said:

“Social media outlets such as Facebook are very popular ways of communicating especially amongst young people.I welcome the fact that Facebook have introduced a link for people to sign up as organ donors.

“At present many people are dying due to a lack of available organs for transplant and any initiative that increases the number of organs available is to be welcomed.

“While polls shows that over 80% of people are in favour of organ donation only 25% have actually signed up.This initiative by Facebook will allow people to sign up to be an organ donor and will also allow people to invite their Facebook friends and contacts to sign up as well.

“I believe that this initiative has the capacity to increase the number of donors significantly and Facebook should be praised for raising the issue.”

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