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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann has condemned an overnight shooting in the Dunmurry area.

Speaking a 23 year old man was shot in Twinbrook on Tuesday evening, the West Belfast MLA said;

"There is no place in our society for attacks like this where a young man was dragged from a takeaway and shot. 

"The people of the area do not want this type of attack and it is not being done in their name. 

"Those responsible are offering nothing to the people of the area and need to stop their actions immediately."

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Sinn Féin Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin MLA has described the ongoing problems in processing Health Workers pay as totally unacceptable.

Maeve McLaughlin said:

“The situation with the processing of Health Workers pay in the Northern and Belfast Trusts is totally unacceptable. A one off glitch in the payroll system could be understandable but there is no excuse for it being allowed to recur month after month.

“It is obvious that the system is not fit for purpose and any intention to roll it out to the other Trusts should be abandoned. Thousands of workers are unable to meet personal commitments such as mortgage, rent, car and other family bills while the Minister dithers.

“Minister Poots must act decisively. Health Workers are under enough pressure in their daily working conditions without having the added worry of not knowing if they will get paid at the end of the month. The Department issuing a standard statement every month that ‘the cause has been identified and steps have been taken to ensure this problem does not recur’ is not good enough.”

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Joint First Minister Martin McGuinness has called on Peter Robinson to show leadership in promoting equality, tolerance and mutual respect for all.

Martin McGuinness said:

“All of us in positions of leadership have a responsibility to represent and stand up for all the people of our society.

“We have a duty to promote equality, mutual respect and tolerance for all in our society based on the core principles contained in the Good Friday Agreement.

“We must recognise and embrace the social, cultural and religious diversity of our society.

"I value the diversity and multicultural nature of our society the significant and valuable contribution the Muslim community makes to this society day and daily. 

"There is a real need for all of us those in positions of responsibility to step out of our own political constituencies and religious groupings and show genuine political leadership for all."

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD, speaking this morning as he departed for the United States to brief senior politicians and the Obama administration in Washington DC said:

"Notwithstanding challenges facing the Government, the Taoiseach must ensure that the British Government faces up to its responsibilities as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Outstanding elements like a Bill Of Rights, Acht na Gaeilge and other issues such as dealing with the past, parades and flags, must be delivered upon.

"The Haass/O'Sullivan proposals offer a way forward. The British Government has not signed up for these.

"The Obama administration and Irish America have a role in encouraging meaningful processes to implement these necessary and long overdue rights for citizens in North.

"Martin McGuinness will meet with all political leaders in the North to seek to avail of the small window of opportunity that exists for progress between now and the Orange marching season. Further delay on these issues would inexcusable."

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Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised the issue of the workers’ sit in at Paris Bakery in Moore Street in the Dáil.

Gerry Adams TD who visited the sit-in on Sunday asked the Minister for Finance – who was taking the place of the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions – if the government will take urgent steps to ensure that the Paris Bakery workers who are owed €55,000 in wages, are able to access the state’s insolvency fund.

The Sinn Féin leader specifically asked the Minister about the publication of the Workplace Relations Bill which the Minister said he hoped would be published in this session of the Dáil.

Teachta Adams said;

“I visited the Paris Bakery on Moore Street on Sunday and spoke with workers and supporters. They have been occupying the Paris Bakery in Moore Street since last Tuesday when the company ceased trading leaving staff owed €55,000 in wages; one of whom has been left homeless, and several others have not received any wages in some months.

“Legislation is needed to defend the rights of workers and to ensure that their wage rights in particular are protected.

“In 2012 the government announced a Workplace Relations Bill and promised for 2013. It has yet to see the light of day. In the meantime workers’ rights are being undermined.

“Two years ago Sinn Féin introduced the Protection of Employees Amendment Bill 2012. It was intended to close the loophole that denies workers whose places of work have abruptly closed to secure their outstanding wages. Fine Gael and Labour voted down.

“I have written to the Minister for Social Protection asking that she take immediate steps to ensure that the workers are able to access the insolvency fund.”

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Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín has said Minister Micheal Noonan is backtracking on his commitment to release the infamous Jean Claude Trichet letter of November 2010 to then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

Speaking today after an exchange during Oral Questions with the Minister Deputy Tóibín said:

“I am very concerned at the Minister’s refusal today to say whether or not he will release the letter even to the Banking Inquiry. In December 2012 Minister Noonan was reported as saying he wanted the letter released. Since then it seems he has backtracked on this commitment and today effectively admitted the ECB has a veto over its release.

“Earlier this month in a reply to my colleague Martina Anderson MEP the ECB said:

‘it would be standard practice and in line with the principle of sincere cooperation among public institutions for the Irish Department of Finance to consult the ECB on the potential release of the letter to the Oireachtas prior to taking any decision. The ECB would respond to the consultation of the Irish Department of Finance on the potential release of the letter to the Oireachtas in the light of the then prevailing circumstances and on the basis of an appropriate weighing of relevant European Union interests.’

“Today Sinn Féin gave Minister Noonan the chance to back up his talk of December 2012 and state that the banking inquiry would be given the letter regardless of the ECB’s opinion.

“He failed utterly to say that he would release the letter to the inquiry. Indeed he seems to have backtracked substantially and seems to have given the ECB a veto over the banking inquiry’s right to all the information.

“The Irish people expect the truth in this inquiry. They expect a 360 degree view on what happened. No institution or Minister should be allowed create a blind spot. Three and a half years after this letter was sent the Irish people expect more from a Minister for Finance than to be still defending the ECB’s interests over the rights of the Irish people to learn the full truth. The hint that the ECB may allow the letter to be released at a letter date raises questions about whether they are biding their time and whether this delaying is to shield them from possible legal action.

“Minister Noonan has the letter and he has the power to release it immediately or at least to the banking inquiry. His refusal to make such a commitment today shows how this government is still afraid to stand up to the ECB.”

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Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has called on the British government to demonstrate its commitment to dealing with the past by endorsing the Haass proposals. 

Speaking after British Prime Minister David Cameron challenged parties in the North to address the legacy of the past, Mr McGuinness said; 

"If David Cameron is serious about building a genuinely shared future here then his government needs to sign up to the Haass proposals, something which he has so far failed to do.

"He also needs to encourage others to do the same. The failure of political unionism to engage in a meaningful process to deal with the legacy of the past  has stalled progress." 

Mr McGuinness also said the British government cannot ignore or conceal the role of its state forces in the conflict. 

"David Cameron has said he does not want a single narrative on the past. 

He and his government can contribute to building a complete narrative on the past by telling the truth about the role of British state forces in the conflict including the control and manipulation of loyalist death squads."

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Speaking at Leinster House today Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said his party has prepared legislation to restore discretionary medical cards to those who have had them taken away.

Deputy Adams said;

“Friday’s elections and the subsequent resignation of the Labour Party Leader, Eamon Gilmore, have contributed further to the destabilization of a Government that is now in crisis.

“The people were given a choice in this election and they chose to reject relentless austerity, taking medical cards from citizens, including children who need them, water taxes and the family home tax.

“They have told the Government that it is on borrowed time.

“In the immediate run up to polling day we witnessed an unprecedented level of contriteness from Government Ministers.

“Following a full year of mounting evidence a homeless crisis, it took pending elections and a public warning from Fr Peter McVerry, for Jan O’Sullivan to acknowledge the housing problem. The response has been entirely inadequate.

“And then, four days before polling Michael Noonan said that ‘the approach to the review of medical cards will have to be changed’.

“We don't need a review of the disgraceful policy of taking Medical cards from those, including children, who need them. That policy simply needs to be ended.

“Sinn Féin has prepared legislation to restore discretionary medical cards to those who have had them taken away. Our party spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin will move this legislation but that should not be necessary, the government should do the decent thing and restore these medical cards immediately.”

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Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada MEP has said that her election to the European Parliament is a victory for the ordinary people of Ireland.

Speaking from the count centre at Nemo Rangers GAA Club in Cork City, she said;

“Sinn Féin went to people of Ireland South with the very clear message that there is a better, fairer alternative to the politics of austerity and cuts.

“My election is a victory for ordinary people who have suffered so much under the regressive policies pushed by the European Commission and implemented with such relish by successive governments here at home.

“We told everybody who we met that a Sinn Féin MEP for this region would stand up for Irish interests in the European Union. I don't believe that has happened over the last five years.

“The people clearly heard that message and they have endorsed the view that Ireland can get a better deal from the EU across a range of areas. 

“They have decided that sending a Sinn Fêin MEP to the European Parliament is vital to ensuring that the tide is turned against austerity and the marginalisation of Ireland.

“Sinn Féin MEPs will continue to engage critically with the European Union. We will fight for a change of direction and to put a socially progressive agenda at the centre of the decision making process.

“We believe that the EU can play a positive role in bringing about fair and sustainable economic recovery in Ireland, ending the housing crisis and protecting the most vulnerable in our society. 

“Our Government and MEPs have failed to lift the toxic banking debt off the shoulders of the Irish people. This is an injustice and it must be addressed and addressed genuinely - not just kicking the debt down the road to be endured by future generations. It is not our debt and it is not the debt of our children and grandchildren.  

“The EU should not be about protecting the privilege of banks, the wealthy and big corporations. It should be about ensuring that citizens have a decent quality of life, education and healthcare at home, not forced to scatter to the four corners of the world in search of a better future.

“Sinn Féin is not part of the cosy consensus in this state and we will not be part of the cosy consensus in Brussels."

"Our is job is to represent the ordinary people of our communities. That principle does not change whether we are in local councils or in the Oireachtas or in the European Parliament.

“We will not falter and we will not fail.

“Sinn Féin will deliver the political change so badly needed across this island.

“I want to thank every single person who gave me their vote and supported Sinn Féin. I will not let you down.”

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Responding to Eamon Gilmore’s resignation as Labour Leader today Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said;

“This is obviously a difficult day for Eamon Gilmore and his family.

“However, this is not about personalities, it's about policies.

“Quite clearly the voters have rejected the policies of this Government.

“They have rejected the brutal agenda of relentless austerity, taking medical cards from sick children, water taxes and cuts to the most vulnerable.

“What is required is a change of political direction and a change of Government.”

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Speaking from the European election count centre in Cork this morning Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said;

“Voters have endorsed Sinn Féin’s message that there is a fairer way.

“They have rejected the 'consensus for cuts' represented by Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil.

“The island-wide election result is also an endorsement Sinn Fein’s message of the need to reinvigorate the Peace Process and for an agreed, united Ireland.

“We have trebled our local representation, we have elected Lynn Boylan to represent Dublin in the European Parliament and we are contesting the other three EU seats across the island.

“Sinn Fein’s newly elected MEPs will stand up for Ireland.

“Our councillors will fight for genuine community interests which put the needs of citizens first.

“The huge vote for Sinn Fein marks a profound change in the political landscape of this state.

“The Government dismisses this as a protest vote or, as the Taoiseach claims, a sign of frustration by the electorate. This is wrong.

“The Government has been sent a very clear message. They do not have public support for the damaging policies they are implementing.

“The voters have called time on this government. They should change political direction or call a General Election.”

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Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams, commenting on reports of explosives found in north Louth, has expressed his concern at this development.


Mr Adams said: 


"If this was an attempt to place a bomb then whoever is responsible should cease their activities.

 

“Anyone with an ounce of republican politics or common sense knows that there is a peaceful and democratic way forward.”

 

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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD today visited the Paris Bakery and Pastry LTD on Moore Street where workers are involved in a sit in over the failure of their employers to pay them over 50,000 euro in wages.

The Sinn Fein leader extended his solidarity and support to the workers.

Gerry Adams said:

"The failure of the owners of the Paris Bakery and Pastry LTD to pay outstanding wages to its workforce is unacceptable. 

“Workers have been left in an impossible situation with some unable to pay their rent, one made homeless, and others not paid since February.

“They should not have to occupy their workplace to get paid. Non payment of wages should be a criminal offence.

“The government has a responsibility to ensure that the owners fulfill their obligations to workers and pay all outstanding wages.

“Sinn Fein will raise this issue in the Dáil this week.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has thanked all those who voted for the party and all those who stood for Sinn Féin throughout the island, North and South.

He said:

"I want to thank all those who voted for the party and for all those who stood for Sinn Fein throughout the island, North and South and all our party workers. I also want to thank the families of all our candidates.

“Sinn Féin will use the mandate that people have given to us wisely. We will keep the commitments we made to the electorate.


"It is clear increasing numbers of citizens are seeking a new kind of politics.

"Some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil has been in government since the foundation of the southern state. The old way of doing politics, as practiced by these parties has failed. People want change.

“Sinn Féin is involved in a historically unprecedented effort to build genuine republican politics in both states on this island. Building capacity and resources and membership is a big task for us and we will continue to grow.

 

“I would appeal today, to citizens to join Sinn Fein in building a citizen-centered, rights based republic on this island.”

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Sinn Fein spokesperson on workers’ rights Senator David Cullinane has offered his solidarity and the full support of the Sinn Féin party to the workers at Paris Bakery & Pastry LTD  in their fight for unpaid wages and other money owed to the workers.

The workers are currently engaged in a sit in protest and are joined by the President of the ICTU who is there in a personal capacity. 

Speaking this evening Senator Cullinane said:

"It is shocking that again workers have to engage in a sit in protest and fight for wages owed. The workers are demanding unpaid wages of more than €55,000, owed to them by their employer, Paris Bakery & Pastry Ltd. 

“In the last few years workers at Waterford Crystal, Vita Cortex, La Senza, HMV, Game, Thomas Cook, Connolly Shoes and now the Paris Bakery, have had to protest for  unpaid entitlements. 

"In 2012 Sinn Fein proposed legislation which sought to extend access to funding under the insolvency fund and reduce waiting times for workers getting paid from the fund. We have also called for increased penalties for unscrupulous employers who seek to exploit workers and withhold wages owed to workers.

"I am calling on the company to pay the workers their unpaid wages and entitlements in full. I again reiterate Sinn Fein's call for more robust workers’ rights and legislation which protects workers from unscrupulous employers.”

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has called for an investigation into a loyalist flag protest at the Moygashel polling station. She said it caused voters to be intimidated and resulted in nationalist canvassers having to leave.


Speaking today Ms Glidernew said:

“The loyalist flag protest and bully boy tactics outside Moygashel polling station were a clear attempt to influence the democratic process.

“Many nationalist voters were intimidated as up to 40 loyalists gathered after 7.30pm until the polling station closed. Some came with knives and removed Sinn Féin posters.

“Many people are angry that the PSNI allowed this protest to stay outside a polling station for so long on election day.

“Sinn Féin has already contacted the Electoral Commission and is calling for an investigation into these events.

“It is a disgrace this protest was allowed to happen in the first place never mind be in situ for two and a half hours during voting.”

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Responding to the resignation of a Sinn Féin candidate in Clare yesterday over anti-traveller remarks made on Facebook Sinn Féin Justice and Equality spokesperson Padraigh Mac Lochlainn TD said;

“We condemn the comments in the strongest possible terms.

“These comments are completely unacceptable and not what we expect from Sinn Féin candidates or members.

“We have accepted Cathal O’Reilly’s resignation today and we believe that it was the right thing for him to do.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Dessie Ellis TD has called on taxi drivers to support Sinn Féin candidates at the Local and European elections. Ellis stated that his party had a track record of working with drivers and fighting for their fair treatment on a national and local basis.

Ellis said;

“Since taking up my role as party transport spokesperson I have worked closely with drivers and their representative groups to support them in their campaign for fair treatment and a sustainable industry. Taxi drivers were hit very hard by the economic crisis and the fall out of Fianna Fáil deregulation of the market and little has been done to recognise this or counteract it at a national or local level by the government parties.

“Sinn Féin representatives if elected will continue to work on councils to ensure that taxi drivers are supported in their vital role in our transport system. Oversupply of taxis coupled with inadequate taxi ranks and other amenities have made life hard for drivers and made it increasingly difficult to make a living. During the worst days of the crisis many drivers lost everything and too many felt that they had nothing to live for with a spike in suicide rates in the industry.

“Taxi drivers under the recent review and new regulations have had further costs heaped upon them, they had their reputation and professionalism smeared and have been used as a pawn by the Labour Party especially. Drivers should support candidates who will work with them to support an efficient, sustainable transport system which provides the opportunity for them to make a decent living from their work. Sinn Féin representatives will do just that.”

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Speaking today, Sinn Féin Education Spokepserson Deputy Jonathan O'Brien has called on Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn to come before the Oireachtas Education Committee to answer questions on how he plans to address the needs of hundreds of students who are affected by school language closures over the last fortnight.

Deputy O'Brien said:

"Given the recent developments concerning closure of many English language schools and the precarious situation that many students have found themselves in, I requested that the Chair of the Education Committee contacts Minister Ruairi Quinn to come before next committee meeting in order to set out how he intends to address the debacle and outline to members his plans for the proposed Taskforce.

"This would also be an opportune time for the Director of the Irish Council for International Students to present before the Committee and I am requesting that an invitation be extended to them also.

"Furthermore, I would like for some of the students affected by these closures to be given the opportunity to outline the impact to the Committee.

"It is important that the experiences of those most affected by this debacle are not left by the wayside.

"It is simply not good enough that these language schools were allowed to operate in such a casual manner.

"International students have paid a lot of money for English language lessons in Ireland, and they deserve to have those lessons.

"There is an obligation on the Department to ensure that they get the lessons they paid for, particularly as the Department itself failed to keep an eye on what was going on here.

"The Minister and his Departmental officials have many questions to answer and I would strongly urge him to make himself available before the Committee."

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Speaking following the announcement by the Board of Management in Tallaght Hospital that the Small World Crèche would close its doors come August, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has expressed his dismay and shock at the short sighted decision and called for a u turn and the reversal of the decision.

Deputy Crowe said;

“Last week, without any consultation or engagement, parents and staff were informed of the Small World Crèches’ closure.

“I have written to David Slevin the Chief Executive Officer of Tallaght Hospital calling for a u-turn and the reversal of this decision.

“The hospital acts as a community environment and we should make every effort to facilitate as many people from diverse backgrounds to work in that community as possible.

“This decision fails to acknowledge the positive work carried out within the crèche over the last eleven years. It will make life really difficult if not impossible for working parents in the hospital currently availing of the crèche for their young children.

“The reality is that there just isn't fifty crèche facilities available in Tallaght.

“The parents have now only three months to source an alternative crèche for their children following this closure ultimatum. If this harsh decision goes ahead will mean fifty young people will be left without childcare.

“I am appealing to the Chief Executive Officer and his Board to reverse this decision and continue to provide enabling facilities to young families affected by this announcement so they can continue to work in their employment in the hospital.”

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