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Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people

Sinn Féin solidarity vigil with the Palestinian people as Israel continues its horrific bombardment of Gaza



“HAP is not a solution and if the government succeeds in passing it into law, it will have wide ranging negative effects on the future of housing in Ireland and our ability to tackle housing need in the years to come.”



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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill, MLA, has today chaired her first North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh.


The Council met in Aquacultural and Marine sectoral format, in which the work of the Loughs Agency of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission (FCILC) is overseen.

The Minister said: "The work of the NSMC is a key area of my Department’s work and I am very keen to see it maximise its potential. I was very proud to host the delegation from the south here in Armagh today at my first NSMC sectoral meeting and also to meet some of the people involved in the FCILC.

“These meetings are important as they help to strenthen and develop further the already close co-operation between my department and the Department of Communication, Energy and natural Resources, as the Agency's two co-sponsors.”

During the meeting, the Agency's Corporate Plan for 2011 to 2013 was discussed, along with the Business Plan and budget for 2011. The Council received a progress report from the FCILC Chairperson, Tarlach O'Crosain, and the Agency's Chief Executive, Derick Anderson. The Council also approved a small grant scheme through which the Agency intends to support marine tourism and recreational angling and gave the go-ahead for the Agency to appoint its third advisory forum.

Minister O'Neill said: “I have assured Minister Rabbitte of my continued commitment to the work of the FCILC in the sustainable development, and conservation and protection of fisheries in the Foyle and Carlingford Areas. I look forward to furthering the close working relationship that exists between NSMC, FCILC and the sponsor Departments.”

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Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Brún has called on the Greek government to overturn its decision to detain Freedom Flotilla II ships bound for Gaza. The flotilla plans to take much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza to challenge the illegal Israeli blockade.

"It is appalling that Greek authorities have bowed to pressure from Israel to 'outsource' this illegitimate blockade which has had far-reaching negative consequences for the 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are children, living in the Gaza strip. The stiff restrictions placed on movement and commerce by the Israeli government have resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis for the people of Gaza.  Given that the majority of the population (80%) depend so heavily on humanitarian aid, it is completely unacceptable that the flotilla should have been halted by Greece.

"I call on the Greek authorities to reconsider their ban on the flotilla setting sail from its ports and allow the activists to continue with their essential work, bringing desperately-needed aid to those who have been cut off from the outside world by this blockade.

"As the Israeli authorities are intent on placing a stranglehold on the economy of Gaza, I would be sceptical about assurances that the much-needed humanitarian aid will reach the Gaza strip through what they call 'existing channels'.  If enough aid was getting through these channels then people of goodwill throughout the world would not be organising ships to bring the aid themselves."

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Sinn Féin, Enterprise, Trade and Investment spokesperson, Phil Flanagan MLA (Fermanagh/South Tyrone) has said that the long-term solution to economic recovery and sustainability can be achieved by imaginative forward planning on an all-Ireland basis.
 
Phil Flanagan said:
 
“What is required is imaginative forward planning and attraction of alternative employment opportunities through both foreign direct investment and by assisting indigenous companies to find new markets and expand their workforce.
 
“Making political arguments against all-Ireland economic development only prolongs the difficulties that we are now experiencing. From any perspective, political or economic,   duplication and replication of service provision is inefficient and cannot be justified. These redundant policies impose an unnecessary administrative and financial burden not only on the two governments but also on those wishing to do business in both jurisdictions.

"A single investment and job creation agency for instance, would eliminate this counterproductive anomaly of competition for inward investment, eradicate the waste of duplication and open wider opportunities to business throughout the island and generally contribute to growing the economy.

“Politicians throughout the island need to recognise a growing all-Ireland economy already exists. The clear cost-effectiveness of this new reality has long been recognised by the business community and the island economy is becoming more interdependent and integrated every year. Increased cooperation on an all-Ireland basis in relation to the economy is the accepted way of the future. We should be getting on with dismantling existing barriers and establishing a united approach to attracting investment and job creation.
 
“Common Chapter commitments made under the GFA commits both governments to advance all-Ireland economic development through joint planning in nine specified areas.  Energy, Communications, Electronic Commerce, Human Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Tourism, Transport, Environment, Education, Health and EU funding. These should be seen as only the beginning of a strategy for all-Ireland development in all facets of life and not a limitation.

 
“In building and strengthening the all-Ireland economy we should be striving to overcome obstacles to mobility, harmonising fiscal and business environments, and adopting and implementing proactive measures to ensure strong economic development. We will not progress in these areas by adopting a dismissive or insular attitude to opportunities for change.”

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Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has today extended Sinn Féin’s support of the Bethany Home Survivors demand that Justice Minister Alan Shatter extend the remit of the inter-Departmental Committee investigation to allow Senator McAleese examine the Bethany case alongside the Magdalene Laundries.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The previous Government’s decision to exclude the Magdalene Laundries and Bethany Home from the residential institutions redress scheme was deplorable, however Fine Gael and Labour now have a real opportunity to right this wrong.

“Just last week Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh called for an investigation into the deaths of at least 219 children in Bethany Home in Dublin between 1922 and 1949.

“There is a need to investigate the fact that at least 219 children died in the years 1922-49 in Bethany Home in Dublin, and to further acknowledge the state's failure to save the children and especially the remaining survivors from the cruelty perpetrated against them.

“This Government failed to consider amending the 2002 Redress act to give recognition to the children who suffered unnecessary illness, neglect and death, due to indifference, incompetence, sectarianism, complicity of the state.

“Excluding Bethany Home from the work of the Magdalene Laundries inter-Departmental Committee would be yet another affront to the women and children who were so grievously wronged by the States neglect of Bethany Home’s residents.

“Justice Minister Alan Shatter must extend the remit of the inter-Departmental Committee investigation to allow Senator McAleese examine the Bethany case alongside the Magdalene Laundries.” ENDS

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Commenting on the delay in providing transport to 14-year-old Maedhbh McGivern which caused her to miss the opportunity of a liver transplant in London, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:

“Lessons must be learned fast from this incident so that nothing of the kind is allowed to occur again. The Minister for Health James Reilly should provide a report this week about where the system fell down, leading to this very disappointing result. I am calling on him to make a statement to the Dáil on the matter.

“Many questions arise, not least the discrepancy between the two accounts of the incident given by the HSE and the Department of Transport.

“It must be questioned also whether too many agencies are involved in this process – the HSE, the Department of Transport, the Coast Guard and the Emergency Medical Support Services.

“Another key question is whether any attempt was made to secure air transport from North of the border – Enniskillen is a relatively short distance from Ballinamore.

“I wish Maedhbh McGivern and her family well and fully support their call for this incident to be properly investigated and lessons learned and applied so that Maedhbh and other people who need emergency transport are not let down again.”

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Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has welcomed today’s opening of the Luas Citywest 4.2km extension that will serve existing communities and developments in Fettercairn, Cheeverstown (Brookfield and Ard Mor), Citywest, Fortunestown and Saggart. 

Speaking after attending the opening of the new line, Deputy Crowe said it was important that people living, working and visiting Dublin City had access to a modern, safe public transport system.

He continued:

“Passenger services started today at 12 noon  and  Luas Citywest will serve 5 new Luas Stops located at Fettercairn, Cheeverstown, Citywest Campus, Fortunestown and Saggart. To further encourage people to use public transport, Cheeverstown Stop will have a Park & Ride Facility with 312 spaces and the line will terminate at Saggart Stop.

“This facility will undoubtedly make a big difference in people’s lives and I welcome the opening of this important transport hub. I wish also to pay tribute for the work done by South Dublin County Council on this project and I have no doubt the new line will be a great success. 

“This is a good news day for Tallaght and will undoubtedly help retain existing jobs in the immediate area and hopefully stimulate new investment along the route.”

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Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe joined members of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group this afternoon protesting at the cuts being imposed on Tallaght Hospital and the loss of services that has endangered the lives of patients.

Crowe, who lives in Tallaght, is a member of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group and has campaigned tirelessly for better services for the hospital which recent figures show is the busiest in the county.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Last week the Health Information and Quality Authority confirmed it is to launch an investigation into Tallaght’s Emergency Department following concerns about patient care. Today’s protest is a clear signal to the government that the people of Dublin demand a properly funded and functioning facility that can meet the healthcare needs of its citizens regardless of their social or economic background. For too many years, we have had to endure a two tier healthcare system that benefits the wealthy and debases the basic rights of ordinary people.

“Tallaght Hospital is in a state of crisis and this was clearly illustrated earlier in the year when a local man, Thomas Walsh, tragically died after being admitted to the hospital in what was later described as a ‘Virtual  Ward’ – an area in a corridor awaiting a bed. The County coroner after hearing of the case, described Tallaght as being ‘a very dangerous place’ for patients.

“Today’s demonstration is about securing additional resources for Tallaght Hospital, as well as a solidarity protest in support of the staff working there, including the doctors and nurses who despite their dedication find themselves stretched to breaking point.

 "This facility is funded to look after 350,000 people but in reality cares for 500,000, making it the busiest hospital in the country. It also dealt with 93,016 emergency presentations last year and its Accident &  Emergency Unit is regularly overflowing onto its corridors with patients on trolleys.

“The current crisis in Tallaght mirrors the problems facing many hospitals throughout the state.

"Health care and its delivery should be an automatic right and not a privilege.

"People voted for change in the last election.

"Unfortunately they have seen very little of it when it comes to the rollout of a first class Health system that is fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of those who are sick and in need of medical care.”  

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The Sinn Féin party will this week place a motion before the Dáil in relation to the current crisis in the health services and the threatened closure of rural A&Es.

The motion calls on the Government to live up to their electoral commitments and ensure equal access to safe and efficient hospital services for all, without discrimination.

Speaking during a break in the party’s Ard Comhairle meeting Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“Our health system is at breaking point. We are facing an impending crisis in our public hospitals due to the shortage of junior doctors from 11 July.  

“This is not news. We have known for years that the hospital system is totally over-reliant on junior doctors. Successive Governments have recognised this but have failed to address the problem and now it is looming again, worse than ever.

“We now look set to lose A&E departments in hospitals across the state. Fine Gael and Labour made repeated pre-election commitments to maintain services at smaller hospitals. These commitments have proved worthless as they impose savage health cuts because they value senior bank bondholders more than they value patients in our public health services.

“Our motion calls on the Government and all those TDs who made firm promises to their constituents that they would protect hospitals including Roscommon, Navan, Letterkenny, Portlaoise, Loughlinstown, Ballinasloe, Limerick, Clonmel, Mallow and Bantry, to stick by their word and stand up for the people who rely on these hospitals.

“We want the Government to stand by its electoral commitments and ensure equal access to safe and efficient hospital services for all, without discrimination based on income or geographic location.”

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Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has expressed his disappointment at the Parades Commission determination allowing the Orange Order to march past Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales on the 12th of July.


Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“The Parades Commission only two weeks ago stopped an Orange Order march past Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales. Nothing has changed since then so why they have allowed this march to go ahead twice on the 12th of July bears no logic and is extremely disappointing.

“There is a need for dialogue around this issue. Each year it is sought, the residents of these areas are ready and willing to engage, yet the Orange Order refuse to embark on meaningful talks.

“This needs to happen in order to reach a resolution to this long running issue that comes around each year.  It is high time the Orange Order played its part in moving our society forward and showed the leadership required.”

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Demand for Israeli ambassador to Ireland to be expelled reiterated


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Michael Colreavy TD & Cllr Darren O'Rourke