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Sinn Féin launch a 'PEOPLE'S PACT'

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.

Some of the sights and sounds of today's massive Right2Water rally on Dublin's O'Connell Street this afternoon (March 21).  Reports that up to...


Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said documents released today by Sinn Féin clearly show the DUP acted in bad faith over the Welfare Reform Bill.



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Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey said that she has asked the Health Department for urgent update on the recent revelations about a senior member of the Fire Service.

The West Belfast MLA, who is also Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee said:

“There is clearly serious problems within the Fire Service, which is subject to two on-going reviews. These reviews need to be completed urgently so that problems that exist can be dealt with.

“These further revelations, while they are issues of management and do not involve the excellent service provided by the fire fighters, will obviously affect morale.

“As Chair of the Health Committee I have asked the Health Department for an update on these issues as soon a possible.

“The Fire Service provide such a valuable service that the public need reassured that these issues can be dealt with quickly.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and the Irish Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, yesterday met with a delegation on the worsening human rights situation in Bahrain.

The delegation included human rights lawyers Toby Cadman and Siobhan Flockton, surgeon Prof. Damian McCormack, John O'Brien of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Tara O’Grady, General Secretary of the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), and a visiting Bahraini lawyer.

Speaking after the meeting Deputy Crowe said:

“The human rights situation in Bahrain would appear to be getting worse with opposition activists being arrested and thrown into jail. Democratic protests have also been attacked and doctors who have treated the wounded have been arrested. The infringement of medical neutrality is a major human rights violation. Doctors should be able to treat any person requiring medical treatment.

“Yesterday’s delegation outlined the case of one of the medics arrested, Doctor Ali Al Ekri, who trained at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI). Just this week his appeal failed and he was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment. Dr Al Ekri and his colleagues were tortured and abused on a daily basis when they were last in custody.

“They were tortured because they treated wounded Bahrainis who were protesting at the lack of democracy and human rights in their country.

“I am calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, to raise the incarceration of these medics with the Bahraini government, and with his European colleagues. The Tánaiste must press for the release of these medics, who have been brutalised and tortured in Bahraini jails.

“I am also calling on the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) to clarify its relationship with the Bahraini authorities and detail what efforts, if any, it is taking to ensure the safety of its staff and former fellows.”

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East Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnaighle said that First Minister Peter Robinson needs to make his position clear regarding the disgraceful and sectarian behaviour of some of the loyalist bands passing St Matthews Church on Saturday.

Niall Ó Donnaighle said:

“There can be no ambiguity regarding the disgraceful scenes outside St Matthews Church on Saturday, not only by some of the bands but also supporters.

“Peter Robinson talks about how important it is that we ‘try and bind our community together’ then surely one section of that community being inflammatory, derogatory and outright sectarian to a different place of worship needs to be condemned.

“The DUP and unionist politicians in general have failed to give leadership in recent months and instead have pampered to the lowest rung of sectarianism within loyalism.

“It is well past the time that Peter Robinson, as the leader of unionism, took a stand against this sectarianism and bigotry and came out clearly against any such behaviour.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community & local government, Brian Stanley TD, has accused the government of : “abandoning whole communities to the drugs crisis”.

Speaking this evening during a Dáil debate, Deputy Stanley said:
“Whole communities were abandoned in the 1980s, in the early 1990s and now again the same communities are abandoned by this government.

“Unfortunately for these communities the drugs crisis has slipped off the government’s agenda. It has become an afterthought in the programme for government with services and resources cut to the bone.

“The evidence is there. The cut in public spending between 2008-2012 is 2.82%, but the budget for drug initiatives was slashed by 29%, with some services having cuts of up 67%.

“This has put enormous pressure on addiction services. More people are presenting with polydrug use yet the services have fewer resources and less funding. There has been a massive increase in gangland crimes.

“So far this year two more people have been shot dead than in the whole of 2011. We need a measured, mature response not the hysterical headlines seen in some of the tabloids.

“It is vital that newly appointed minister, Alex White TD reprioritise the drugs crisis. There is of course no one easy answer to the drugs crisis, but experience shows that the response must be holistic, integrated and partnership based.
“It must involve the people most affected by the problem in finding solutions that work for their communities. These solutions must be adequately resourced. This approach, once championed by Labour, has been eroded by consecutive governments, including this one.”

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North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the practise of retiring and rehiring former police members who received huge severance packages, was concealed and covered up by the PSNI for years.

The Sinn Féin policing spokesperson said:

“Sinn Féin welcomes the Audit Office’s publication of this report, which contains evidence and facts that the Chief Constable can no longer dispute or deny.

“It is a story of cronyism and jobs for the boys at the expense of the Police Service and the public interest.

“Sinn Féin, while the PSNI were refusing to admit it was happening, has been working to uncover the scandal of rehiring former police members who were given huge severance packages.

“Retiring and rehiring was rampant and this report proves it. The fact that £100m of public money has been spent makes it a scandal on an industrial scale.

“It undermines what Patten was about with more than 1000 police officers retired under Patten being rehired.

“A £44m contract was awarded without tendering and thousands of jobs filled without public advertisement.

“Those employed were not accountable to the Police Ombudsman or bound by PSNI’s Code of Ethics. Add to that the fact that some have been assigned sensitive roles in which they have a serious conflict of interest regarding historical enquiries.

“The Public Accounts Committee will hear evidence next week and I think the committee will play a crucial role in revealing more facts. This will also be the case in another part of this investigation carried forward by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate, which is due to report in the coming weeks.

“There is no place for an old boys’ network in the new beginning to policing we all deserve and this is the moment of truth for the current PSNI leadership.” CRÍOCH/END

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Sinn Féin Irish language spokesperson Cathal Ó hOisín has welcomed the announcement by Education Minister John O’Dowd that funding will be made available for Irish language in the Extended Schools Programme.

 Mr. Ó hOisín stated

 “This announcement will open up schools to participate in providing Irish language classes and activities to bolster the use of the language through the Extended School programme.

 “As we see the numbers of people signing up the Liofa project launched by Department of Culture Arts and Leisure increase and the growing number of children attending Irish medium education it is important that we support those learning the language.

 “I would encourage all those schools in the present Extended School cluster to apply for funding and provide another outlet for the local community in developing the Irish Language.”

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Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has praised the important work of the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) and its commitment to ensuring people with reading and writing difficulties have access to learning opportunities.
The Cork North Central TD was speaking after meeting today in Leinster House with John Steward, NALA’s National Adult Literacy Coordinator.
Deputy O’Brien said: “NALA provides a voice to adults wishing to improve their literacy and numeracy skills and I commend their commitment to raising standards in adult learning.
“Current government policies contain targets for raising adult literacy but as NALA points out, we also need a collective approach that ensures the implementation of a more robust plan that will ensure greater integration of literacy into further education and training. With innovative thinking and forward planning, this can be done relatively inexpensively and adult learning should be in integral part of employment training programmes.
“There also needs to be greater emphasis on improving access to adult education and training by ensuring there is enhanced awareness of what is available.
“It is important everyone is given a chance to participate fully in society and that is why organisations such as NALA need support to ensure the 25% of adults who lack adequate reading and writing skills have the chance to access education.”
“The imminent publication of the Education Training Boards Bill presents an opportunity to implement positive reforming measures however, it would be wrong if a key group should as adult learners were not represented on the board.
“This is an important aspect of the bill which we will be scrutinising whenever the legislation is published and put before the Oireachtas.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government Brian Stanley TD has today claimed that Minister Hogan’s plans for the installation of water meters lie in tatters.

Speaking in the Dáil today on the issue Stanley asked if it was the government’s intention to plough ahead with the Water Services Bill given the information that is now available in relation to cost and the length of time it will take to install meters in over 1.3 million households.

Deputy Stanley said;

“The introduction of water meters comes at a massive cost. According to the Local Authorities Professional Officers this project will cost the tax payer a massive €1.2 billion.

“Initially Minister O’Dowd informed the Dáil committee that the installation would commence in 2012; this date was put back in April when Minster Hogan claimed the installation would be done by 2014. But in September John Mullins of Bord Gais stated the installations have been put back to the end of 2015.

“Despite having commenced the installation of water meters in England 20 years ago there are thousands of homes where they have yet to be installed. This is a very complex process that the government should not underestimate.

“I have brought this up with Minister Hogan on numerous occasions, but he is not listening. The government plan is in tatters.

“I urge the government to abandon its plan to install domestic water meters and invest instead in upgrading our crumbling water system.”

ENDS

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Sinn Fein’s EU spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly has said today’s trip to Brussels by the cabinet must produce results. If not it will be seen as another action of a “government by press release.”

“Today’s ministerial outing should produce concrete results but when it comes to this government and its dealings with the EU, I wouldn’t hold my breath. On issues from youth unemployment to resolving the bank and sovereign debt this government has failed to produce a single tangible result from its softly-softly approach in Europe.

“The Presidency of the EU represents an opportunity for Ireland to put issues important to us on the agenda. Yet all indications are that this government is content to play along with the agenda of larger countries and not rock the boat.
If the EU can produce billions for Spanish banks why has it not produced any actions to help reduce the sky high rate of youth unemployment in countries like Ireland?

“Why is the government unwilling to force the issue of Ireland’s unsustainable debt, which was taken on at the EU’s prompting?

“These are the type of questions that need to be asked today by the ministers in Brussels. We need more than vague commitments and empty words.”
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