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Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane today attended the official opening of Holy Cross College in Strabane.

Speaking at the opening, the Education Minister said:

"It is a great honour to be here at the opening of Holy Cross. This school should act as a beacon to the rest of the island as to what can be achieved when schools in an area come together for the benefit of all children.

"Holy Cross is the embodiment of my vision for education. It is an all ability school with academic bands where all pupils' needs are met on one campus.

"This is a wonderful school with state of the art equipment and facilities. In the future the children and young people from West Tyrone will be served by a school estate fit for the 21st century."

Speaking about the amalgamation, the minister said:

"This school demonstrates what can be achieved when three schools, instead of each competing for new buildings and facilities, come together. The school has been a long time in development and has had many difficulties placed in its way but it has finally arrived to serve the needs of the community.

"Congratulations to the Principals, the Trustees and the community whose vision and determination has made this project possible."

Note to Editors

  1. Holy Cross College is an amalgamation of St Colman's High School, Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School and Strabane Convent Grammar School.
  2. Holy Cross College is a co-educational school which can provide education provision for over 1,800 pupils from ages 11-18.
  3. The capital cost of Holy Cross College was £31.299million. The main Architect was Alan Shields of Robinson Patterson Architect and Design. The school was constructed by O'Hare McGovern Contractors.


Sinn Féin Councillor Padraig McShane has accused the SDLP of attacking the rights of nationalists to fair representation on the new body set up to oversee the transition to the new Causeway Coast Council that incorporates Coleraine, Ballymoney, Limavady and Moyle councils.

The SDLP and two Independent Nationalist councillors united alongside Unionists in Moyle this month, to block Sinn Féin gaining an extra seat on a transitional committee for the new Super Councils.

The transitional committee is currently being set up to facilitate the transfer of business to the new Council known as Causeway Coast and incorporates five councillors each from Coleraine, Ballymoney, Limavady and Moyle.

Sinn Fein Councillor Padraig McShane was nominated along side Ulster Unionist Councillor Helen Harding for the fifth place allocated to Moyle for the committee. In a recorded vote Councillor Harding came out on top when councillors in the chamber united to keep Sinn Fein from gaining the extra place.

Councillor McShane said afterwards:

"Given that the new Council will have a large Unionist majority, I fail to understand the reasoning behind this vote. I would have assumed that Nationalists and Republicans would have preferred to enter these very important committees with as strong a team as possible.

"I am not sure these Councillors thought their actions through, but I feel they scored an own goal on behalf of the broader Nationalist community throughout the new council area.

"The SDLP should recognise that it is exactly this type of selfish approach to politics that has seen them go into electoral meltdown. The broader Nationalist and Republican community want to see their elected representative working together not engaging in petty party politics that is to the detriment of the nationalist and republican community." ENDS


Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, the youngest MLA, has welcomed news today indicating an increase in the number of 17 years olds getting on the electoral register and said that this is a sign of young people's increasing desire to effect change within society.

Mr McKay said,

"This positive news comes as no surprise because when young people are mobilised to use such an important right as the one to vote there is a hunger there. This is a sign of young people's desire to effect change within society.

"Sinn Féin has encouraged Electoral Office for a number of years to get out amongst young people and encourage them to take up their right to vote as often many of our younger citizens were daunted and are not properly informed about how to get on the register. The schools initiative has clearly been a success and should be further developed.

"However, there are still some serious problems in relation to rolling registration and particularly people who have moved home or fallen off the register. British legislation removing the household registration option decimated the Electoral register over the last number of years particularly amongst young first time voters.

"There are concerns that despite this good work that the Electoral Office still not doing enough to facilitate people getting back on the register." ENDS


Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson John O'Dowd has called for a speedy reopening of Presentation Primary School in Thomas Street, Portadown, following a suspicious fire in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The Upper Bann MLA said,

"This school is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by committed, dedicated teaching staff. Just a few years ago it was on the verge of closing because of falling numbers, now it is a prestigious school serving a multi ethnic community. It offers an essential service to children of many nationalities and all the stops should be pulled to ensure it is reopened without any unnecessary delay."

Cllr O'Dowd MLA continued:

"There have been reports that the blaze was malicious and we await a full report from the Fire Service to see if this is the case. Should it turn out to be arson, the public owe it to our children to come forward with any information they may have.

"A good and all encompassing education, as supplied by Presentation Primary School, is not alone a fundamental right, it is the base on which our social and economic future is built and no-one has the right to prevent even one child from fully participating in that education." ENDS


Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson and vice-chair of the Assembly's Health Committee, Michele O'Neil MLA speaking today, World Aids Day, has called on the Executive and Assembly to play their part in increasing awareness and assisting those sufferers of HIV/Aids.

Ms O'Neil said,

"It is now our responsibility in the assembly to raise awareness of issues such as this and to have a open and frank discussion.

"September of this year saw the launch of the Rapid HIV Testing Centre, which offers information and education relating to HIV/Aids as well as assisting those people with the disease.

"This is an issue of both local and global significance, one which Ireland is not immune from, and which requires united action.

"There is also a continued need for greater awareness of sexual health and safe sex practices.

"Political leaders need to recognise the relationship between poverty, discrimination and HIV/AIDS, and the need to break the cycle of underdevelopment, poverty and disease. The assembly has a responsibility to address this growing crisis." Críoch


Sinn Féin's Francie Brolly MLA (East Derry) has condemned a series of attacks on cars in the Limavady area at the weekend.

Mr. Brolly said:

"A number of cars were attackedin the early hours of Sunday morning in the Colessan and Woodland Walk area of Limavady. Up to twenty cars had their tyres slashed as well as other damage. Many of these cars belonged to elderly members of the community. It is believed that three individuals engaged in this systematic vandalism.

"This is the same area in which homes and oil tanks were the object of arson attacks earlier in the year and people are living in constant fear of anti-community attacks. This is totally unacceptable and I call on people to be vigilant, be each others eyes and ears and particularly look out for elderly or vulnerable neighbours. Any one with any information on these or any anti-community activities in Limavady should pass it on to the relevant authorities so that these individuals can be apprehended."


Speaking in Donegal last night at the commemorative dinner marking the 125th anniversary of the execution of Patrick O’Donnell President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams MLA MP criticised the government for failing the people of Donegal and vowed that Sinn Féin will continue to be to the fore in tackling Fianna Fáil and the Green’s unjust economic policy decisions.


Mr. Adams said:
“This Government and the Governments before it have failed the people of Donegal.  In West Donegal you have witnessed the loss of jobs in traditional sectors such as farming, fisheries, and textiles. There has also been the loss of vital services such as post offices and public transport.


“The current credit crunch and downturn in the economy, coupled with the appallingly inept management of the economy by the government, has meant that almost 5,000 new people have joined the dole queues across the county in the last year. Donegal already has the highest levels of unemployment in the state.

“The people of the Gaeltacht have been failed by a government that has failed to provide the necessary investment in jobs and infrastructure or promote the Irish language. Many young people continue to emigrate looking for work.
“Sinn Féin has been to the fore in tackling these inequities and bad policy decisions. Irish republicans have a vision of a new future for Donegal, a new future for Ireland, and we have the spirit and confidence to work with others to achieve this.

“This is not the time for apathy or complacency or sitting back waiting for others to do the right thing. This is a time for vigorous and positive action. The road map is clear.  Sinn Féin is looking forward.
“This week Senator Pearse Doherty launched his 'Awakening the West: Overcoming Social and Economic Inequality', report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

“The report is the first of its kind in decades and has been put together after a major consultation process involving dozens of groups including Community Development Groups, County Enterprise and Development Boards, State agencies, Chambers of Commerce, and Trade Unions, along the Western Seaboard.
“There is a particular focus on the needs of Gaeltacht communities like that in West Donegal. The approach taken by Senator Doherty and Sinn Féin in drawing up this report demonstrates the best qualities of our party. It is about partnership with our communities, problem solving, and advocacy of those that have been left behind and failed.

“Sinn Féin was the only significant political party and the only party with Oireachtas representation to oppose the treaty. The arguments we made connected with the people and we demonstrated our republican credentials by defending workers rights, defending our public services, and ensuring that rural communities have a viable future.

“The report this week of the Oireachtas Committee on ‘Ireland’s Future in Europe’ is evidence that neither the government nor the other parties have listened to the concerns of the electorate as expressed in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. The Committee’s objective is to re-run that referendum as quickly as they can get away with it.
“The government and its allies have taken no account of citizen’s concerns over neutrality, workers rights, public services, democracy and Ireland’s loss of influence in the EU. The Committees report is simply a re-hash of the Yes argument and a transparent attempt to scare the electorate with unsubstantiated claims of economic consequences for the No vote.
“Sinn Féin rightly dissented from the report and will continue to vigorously champion the widespread concerns that continue to exist around this Treaty and to demand that the Irish government stand up in Europe for the rights of the Irish people.” ENDS



Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson’s Arthur Morgan TD and Mitchel McLaughlin MLA have today made a joint call for the harmonisation of VAT across the island of Ireland. Arthur Morgan TD has also criticised Finance Minister Brian Lenihan for his “skin deep patriotism as it is his Budget that continues to squeeze small retailers out of business along the border by refusing to put in place an interim measure to support small retailers already struggling. In Donegal for example the live register has increased by 58% in the last year alone. Patriotism does not stop at either side of the border.”

Deputy Morgan said:
 “The Irish government’s decision to increase VAT from 21% to 21.5% is a regressive measure likely to cost families up to €250 next year. This eats into the budgets of working families struggling to cope with the prospect increased public service charges and other taxes such as the income levy.

“In addition the increase will have an adverse effect on consumer spending hitting hard small to medium sized businesses. In recent weeks I have advocated a 2% reduction in VAT to boost the incomes of low and middle income earning families and enhance consumer spending.
 “However border county businesses are now facing a double hit following the government savage budget as they tackle the impact of the British government’s decision to reduce the rate of VAT across a range of items to 15%.

 “With such a disparity between taxation rates applied in the north and south Sinn Féin’s longstanding demand for an all Ireland economic framework, which includes the harmonisation of all taxes, and fiscal incentives is now more relevant than ever. A first step towards the all Ireland economy would be the harmonisation of VAT across the island.

“In the interim the Irish government must examine different ways to support small retailers along the border counties in the run up to Christmas.

 Mitchel McLaughlin MLA added:
 “Whilst I have welcomed the reduction in VAT by the British Chancellor, I firmly believe that the economic success of this island is dependent on the development of the all-Ireland economy. It has never made sense for an island as small as Ireland to have two economies running in parallel thus in competition with each other.

“Today consumers and businesses in the six counties are benefiting from the British government’s decision to reduce VAT, while those in the 26 are hit with a further increase. Tomorrow the shoe could be on the other foot if the Irish government decided to reduce its VAT rate to levels below those decided by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“The existence of two tax regimes on this small island is ludicrous and leads only to a volatile situation of economic distortions across the island, and indeed adds to the historic border county economic instability created by partition. While we in the North must continue to seek sufficient fiscal autonomy to manage the present economic realities, it is obvious however that the island’s future lies in all Ireland economic agenda.

Both Sinn Féin Economic Spokespersons concluded by saying:
 “The only progressive way forward for the development of this island’s economic future is for the process of an all Ireland economic framework to begin. Today Sinn Féin is calling for the harmonisation of VAT across the island as an initial step in beginning this process.” ENDS


Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has offered her condolences to the families of the two teenagers who tragically lost their lives in Co Fermanagh.

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane said:

"I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the teenage boy and girl whose lives were tragically cut short as a result of last nights road traffic accident in County Fermanagh.

"The Western Education and Library Board's critical response team have been sent to the school to offer support to pupils and staff at Devenish College at what must be a very emotional time for all involved." ENDS


European candidate, Cllr Toiréasa Ferris, has described the announcement of a massive rise in health insurance as a further widening of the divide in the two-tier health system and as yet another tax increase imposed on families.


Cllr Ferris said: “Today’s announcement that health insurance premiums are to rise dramatically are a shocking indictment of the government’s two tier health system.  Many families are forced to take out health insurance because of the inadequacy of the public health service.  Many of these people will now be forced to withdraw, unable to afford for example the extra €450 for VHI Plan B, further widening the divide between those who can afford a private health care system and those who rely on the poorly resourced public health service.  This rise will hit people with existing health problems particularly hard, because if they are forced to withdraw for financial reasons such patients will have to wait another 7 years before being allowed back into a scheme”


“The increases amount to another tax hike by stealth as they arise because the government is unwilling to tackle the problems of the public health service or the extraordinary prices charged by some of the private hospitals providers.” 


“This is a government problem and I call on the Minister for Health Mary Harney, to look again at the policies which have given rise to these price hikes.  In the present circumstances it is vitally important that people are not penalised for trying to access basic health care.” ENDS


Commenting on the planned rise in average charges for VHI and other health insurers by up to 23%, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the Government’s policy is causing “health funding chaos”. He called on the Government to establish a Health Funding Commission to plan the transition to a fairer and more efficient system.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“Health insurance hikes will come as a further excessive burden on the many people on relatively low incomes who have taken out personal health insurance because the state of our public health services has driven them to ‘go private’. Many are now likely to give up their health insurance.

“The price rise highlights the fact that fatally flawed Government healthcare policy causes health funding chaos. Approximately 70% of the population pays for their healthcare twice – once through taxes and again through personal health insurance or direct user fees for GP services, medicines and hospital care. Meanwhile many thousands of needy families are denied medical card entitlement because of the excessively low income threshold.

“This complex and inefficient funding system has been used by successive Governments to underpin the grossly inequitable two-tier public-private system.

"If Health Minister Harney is sincere in her claim to support equality in health insurance why has she not applied the same principle to the health system in general?

“The only system that can guarantee both maximum equity and true efficiency is a system of universal healthcare provision, free at the point of delivery and publicly funded. This would be real 'community rating' where tax raised based on ability to pay would be used to provide healthcare to all based on need alone.

"Sinn Féin has repeatedly called for the establishment of a Health Funding Commission to assess all the funding, public and private, spent on healthcare and to plan the transition to a universal public healthcare system. Such a change in Government health policy is needed now more than ever." ENDS                             


Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh /South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, has spoken of her shock at the death of two young people in a road traffic accident near Florencecourt.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The loss of such two young people is tragic at any time, but when two children are taken from loved ones a few weeks before Christmas it is even more poignant.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and their circle of friends and relatives at this time. I know they must be heartbroken and I can assure them of the support of the whole community at this most difficult time.

"There is an issue surround safety on rural roads. With darkness falling early in the evening and small, narrow roads I would urge drivers to slow down take extra care while pedestrians should ensure they are highly visible wearing items such as reflective clothing or arm bands."


Sinn Fein MLA for South Belfast Alex Maskey has welcomed the rescuing of two women from a human trafficking unit in Belfast

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

"Human trafficking is a plight across Europe and unfortunately nowhere is immune from it.

"Many who are trafficked here are adolescents and vulnerable adults. They are sexually exploited, remain in forced labour and prostitution, are held in debt bondage and are victims of domestic and sexual violence.

"The women and young girls live in constant fear, with little local knowledge, many times not having been provided with the right documentation in order to stay in the country they are reaffixed to.

"The fact that the PSNI have made inroads into an apparent trafficking unit, arresting those believed to be responsible and rescuing two women who have been victims of trafficking is to be welcomed.

"Given what these two women have endured what we need to see now is the proper support mechanisms put in place, including counselling, accommodation and benefits to stop those rescued being sucked back into this dangerous underground world."


Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has welcomed the publication this morning of the West Belfast and Greater Shankill Enterprise Council report 'Think Transformation - Development Initiatives for the economic transformation of West Belfast and Greater Shankill.'

Speaking after the launch Mr. Adams said:

"The Enterprise Council has brought forward an innovative and imaginative report which provides a positive vision of West Belfast for the future.

"The next step must be in developing a delivery mechanism which can turn these ideas into realistic projects. That will require practical support from the Executive and government departments.

"Today's announcement must also be seen in the context of yesterday's announcement of a Rapid Transit Network proposal for Belfast, including West Belfast.

These two major proposals and the development of the huge land block between Hannahstown Hill and the Monagh by-pass, mean that there are now three significant projects with the potential to bring in many millions of pounds of investment and jobs, improve the environment for citizens and to transform West Belfast and the city in the years ahead."


Sinn Féin Economic spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD today said "allowing international private equity funds to take over the Irish banking sector would have disastrous consequences for the economy in the future. Their sole interest is to get as much profit as possible in as short a period a time as possible. When it suits them they will sell up and move on, regardless of the implications for the economy."

Deputy Morgan said, "Today's discussions between Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and leading figures in the six Irish banks covered by the state guarantee scheme are critical. There are a range of options open to the government in terms of re-capitalising and they need to move on the basis of what is in the long term interests of the Irish economy.

"Sinn Féin believes that allowing international private equity funds to take over the Irish banking sector would have disastrous consequences for the economy in the future. Their sole interest is to get as much profit as possible in as short a period a time as possible. When it suits them they will sell up and move on, regardless of the implications for the economy. The Irish state has not insured our financial sector with the guarantee scheme for the benefit of private equity investors and the government must surely recognise this.

"The best options available at this time are the banks raising additional capital themselves and investment by the state. Any money invested by the state in the banks must be given in return for shares, ie, semi or full nationalisation, and it is essential we know where our money is being spent. Recapitalisation may also be an investment for the state. If the banks become profitable again, the state will have a shareholding in them which can either be kept to pay dividends, or sold back to the market for a windfall return. The government shoul keep one of the banks in state ownership." ENDS


Ógra Shinn Féin National Organiser Barry McColgan has called upon young people in particular to take caution on the roads in the run up and over the Christmas period.

According to Mr. McColgan the Christmas and New Year period are peak times for road traffic collisions.

Speaking on the issue National Organiser of the republican youth organisation, Barry McColgan said,

"The issue of fatal road traffic collusions is a huge blight in Ireland. With a huge number of fatalities and casualties on our roads we must urge caution.

"Ogra Shinn Fein has pro-actively campaigned for road safety measures across Ireland, and has leafleted extensively, erected road signs, and hosted public vigils to raise awareness around the major issue of road safety.

"The Christmas and New Year period is a dangerous time on the road with bad weather particularly icy roads, an increase in traffic and many young people having a long school holiday. So I would urge parents, drivers and indeed young people themselves to be mindful of the added risk factor.

"I would also urge those who are socialising over the Christmas period to leave the car at home if they plan to drink alcohol. I would urge people who have consumed alcohol not to drive and avail of public transport, or a taxi as alternatives to taking the car.

"We re-iterate our demand for a comprehensive all-Ireland Road Safety Strategy. Road carnage is the second biggest killer of young people in Ireland, this statistic is deeply worrying and we believe that a major measure in dealing with this is by a comprehensive all-Ireland Road Safety Strategy." CRIOCH

Note to Editors

For video of Moilligh Sios campaign:


Sinn Féin Group Leader on Derry City Council, Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the support for a Sinn Féin Amended motion which commits Council to seek an explanation from DSD Minister Margaret Ritchie about her failure to include local labour/social requirement and procurement guidelines in the Dove Gardens, or the Public Realm plan projects in Derry while including them in the Victoria Square project in Belfast.

Maeve McLaughlin said:

"Sinn Féin will not be lectured by the SDLP about our record in standing up for Derry regardless of the Minister we may be dealing with.

"For the last three months we have seen an attempt by the SDLP - through motions to council - to engage in cheap political point scoring and blame republicans for all the ills on this island. All of this has been framed without any acknowledgement of ensuring that equality and partnership are central to the workings of the Assembly - a point which will come back to bite the SDLP.

"The record speaks for itself - in the previous assembly with the SDLP at the fore we had 10,471 job losses in the north west, a draft investment strategy (ISNI 1) which took no account of tackling regional disparities, INI total contribution to this city was 8% compared to 73% in Belfast., a ban on rail investment, no movement on investment on roads infrastructure in the North west and a regional development strategy which failed this city miserably

"How has their SDLP Minister, Margaret Ritchie addressed the housing needs of this City prior to the Credit Crunch? The 10% cuts made by DSD are now threatening the construction of 280 social housing units in Skeogh?

"Helen Quigley wants the Executive to increase funding for Invest NI! If Helen Quigley wants to raise money for Invest NI, maybe she could start by asking them why they are spending a million pounds of taxpayer's money renting an empty building at Campsie? Or why those gurus of economics at Invest NI managed to conspire to spend £125m of OUR money on a new headquarters in Belfast, which they didn't need and which is worth only £25m.

"If the SDLP want to be taken seriously they need to come out of their fantasy world of make believe where everything good emanated from the SDLP and all the ills were the fault of everyone else." ENDS


Sinn Féin plan to hold a 'Day of Reflection' aimed at promoting reconciliation and equality in Limavady borough council next month.

A candle lighting ceremony will be held in the Mayors Chamber in Limavady Borough Council on Friday 12th December to acknowledge and remember all those who have died as a result of war and conflict through-out the world.

Limavady Mayor Brenda Chivers speaking about the upcoming event said "this is an important opportunity for everyone in society to reflect both the difficulties and pain of the past but also on the changes in recent years and on how we move forward into the future".

She continued:

"Across councils in the north over the past number of years Sinn Féin have developed an approach to reflection based upon inclusion and reaching out that has been led by Sinn Féin mayors and Chairs.

"Our approach is underpinned by the principles of dignity, respect, sensitivity and inclusiveness. It is important that we recognise all who have lost their lives as a result of war and conflict and all those who still live with the pain and memory of that loss.

"This event is open to all members of the public and anyone who would like more information on the event can contact Dungiven Sinn Féin on 77742488." CRÍOCH


In support of recent efforts by Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, the First and deputy First Minister have jointly written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown seeking his support for the local dairy industry.

The First Minister, Peter Robinson MP MLA, and the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MP MLA, have jointly written to Gordon Brown this week to lobby his support in discussions on the re-introduction of the dairy export refunds at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on Friday 28 November.

Confirming this new development, Minister Gildernew said:

"The terrible situation that our dairy currently finds itself in is a matter which concerns the entire Executive. Only last week my Executive colleague Minister Foster and I, jointly lobbied Hilary Benn for urgent special consideration of the Northern dairy industry's problems when representing our interests in Brussels on the export refund issue. Also when I heard that the issue is on the agenda for this week's Agriculture and Fisheries Council, I again wrote to Hilary Benn imploring him to re-think the position on the matter.

"On the back of this I approached the First and deputy First Minister about seeking the re-introduction of the dairy export refund here and I am very pleased that they have raised the issue to the highest level by also writing to lobby the British Prime Minister on our behalf. It is vital that he instructs the Minister attending the Council to fight the case for our dairy industry as loudly as possible. " ENDS


Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned bomb hoaxes at two homes of members of a North Belfast family earlier today.

Commenting after bomb hoaxes at two homes of members of a North Belfast family earlier today, Thursday 27 November, Sinn Féin MLA for the constituency Gerry Kelly said:

"These hoax bomb incidents caused great distress to the families targeted, including a number of vulnerable young children, and neighbours caught up in the disruption which followed.

"There is no support within the community for these threats and Sinn Féin demands that they are withdrawn immediately.

"These latest incidents come hot on the heels of threats issued to community workers earlier this week and bomb alerts at homes in the New Lodge area yesterday.

"I am calling for an end to all these campaigns of intimidation." ENDS

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