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Speaking today after the Commencement Order for the Labour Services (Amendment) Act 2009 was signed by the Tánaiste, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Deputy Arthur Morgan expressed his apprehensions about the Act, questioning the undiluted power given to the Minister and he set the task to the new Board to get FÁS back on track.

Deputy Morgan said:
“On publishing this legislation, the Tánaiste heralded a ‘root and branch cultural change in accountability and transparency at the organisation. But really the scandals at FÁS were the symptom, not the disease. The disease of corruption, cronyism, and careless expenditure is rotting away at public confidence, not only in State Bodies, but in the roots of Government itself.

“This Act on whole is a farce. Public confidence cannot be restored in FÁS while Mary Coughlan is at the healm, while undiluted Ministerial power still wields excessive influence over FÁS and its organisation. This Act may be doing a clear-out, but we are really only sweeping the dirt under the carpet. If the Minister is serious about reform, restructuring and fairness, she would not have afforded herself the powers that this Act lays down.

“The jury is still out on the new Board but I want to emphasise that they have a lot to prove in their new positions. At a time when there are 426,700 people on the Live Register, when FÁS is needed most, the agency cannot be consumed by anymore scandals. The people will take no more. What we need is vision to get this economy going again; to get people into education, training and employment.
The culture of cronyism in some sections of FÁS needs to be wiped out completely and I hope the provisions for ‘whistleblower’ protection will have a key part in doing this.” ENDS

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Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin International Affairs spokesperson TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh congratulated the Irish and International aid efforts in Haiti.

“While congratulating the Irish and International tremendous aid efforts, and in particular the incredible strength of the Haitian people themselves it is evident that poverty and a lack of resources contributed greatly to the scale of this disaster.

“The question must be asked, why aren’t the former colonial powers, who were largely responsible for the post colonial economic decline of states like Haiti, and who have profited from the injustices of colonialism, not providing more aid to improve the country’s infrastructure and better prepare them for a disaster like this?

“I also believe there is too much reliance on armed forces to respond to international crises. I would like to see a better funded and better prepared Rapid Response Unit in Ireland and in all member states of the UN. It is my belief that the primacy of the UN with regards to coordinating a response to disasters like the earthquake in Haiti should be established and set in stone.

“Finally, I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Irishman
Andrew Grene who was tragically killed while working as a special assistant to the
head of the UN mission in Haiti.”ENDS

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Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “a disgrace” the continued closure of a 25-bed ward at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Cuts at Crumlin Children’s Hospital last year received national attention as parents of very sick children were forced to protest and seek media coverage of their plight. The closure of the 25-bed St. Joseph’s Ward was supposed to be temporary, with the facility reopening this year. We now find that the ward is to remain closed, with the knock-on effect of continuing cancellations and unacceptably long waiting lists for operations and procedures, some of them life-saving.

“In a Dáil debate on the hospital last year Health Minister Mary Harney described Crumlin as ‘a centre of excellence, delivering outstanding care to the sick children of Ireland’ and ‘the tertiary hospital for the vast majority of children with a serious illness’. Such honeyed words are meaningless when the Minister presides over a situation where the hospital is struggling and sick children and their parents are being put through further unnecessary anguish.

“If Minister Harney diverted to Crumlin Children’s Hospital even some of the taxpayers money squandered in tax breaks for the developers of private hospitals then not only could the closed ward be reopened but services at Crumlin could be expanded further.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Taoiseach to sack the Minister for Health & Children and to dump the policies which she has pursued after the numbers of patients on trolleys in overcrowded hospital A&E units reached a record number of 500 on Wednesday. Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“The crisis in our over-crowded hospital A&E departments is now worse than ever. Long forgotten by Minister Harney is her declaration of a ‘national emergency’ when there were actually fewer patients on trolleys than there were on Wednesday.

“As this crisis deepens the HSE is actually proposing to reduce the number of acute hospital beds by a further 1,100 in its plan for 2010. If 500 patients are on trolleys with the existing acute hospital bed shortage how many will there be under the HSE plan? 1,000? 2,000?

“The Taoiseach should sack the totally discredited Health Minister Mary Harney and he should dump the health policies which she has pursued on behalf of a succession of Fianna Fáil-led governments. This is not to in any way lessen the responsibility of all the members of those Governments for healthcare chaos, but to emphasise that a dramatic change in direction must be brought about.” ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA for west Belfast Paul Maskey has condemned two attacks in the Suffolk and Ballymurphy areas last night.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said;

“Obviously these attacks cause a great deal of concern amongst the community in west Belfast, particularly given the fact that in one instance a number of young children were witness to the shooting but this also indicates the intention of some people to steal guns and introduce them onto our streets.

At this stage my understanding is the PSNI have arrested a number of individuals in relation to the attacks.

My thoughts are with the families subjected to what was without doubt a deeply traumatic and stressful experience for them.” CRÍOCH

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South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has welcomed Tuesday's cross-party support which was given to his Assembly motion which called upon the Social Development Minister to introduce mandatory landlord registration. The South Belfast MLA has now said that the onus is on the Minister to move to implement mandatory landlord registration.


Alex Maskey MLA said,

"Tuesday's motion was a continuation of our ongoing attempts to resolve the problems faced by those living in the Holylands area in South Belfast.


"This motion highlights one element of this problem and is timely because the Department of Social Development, last August, closed its consultation on a Strategy for the Private Rental Sector. The responses to that consultation would indicate that there is widespread support the mandatory registration of landlords.


"I would welcome the fact that this motion received cross-party support in the Assembly. I was, however, extremely disappointed at the attitude of the Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie during the debate.


"I have discussed the Holyland issue with her, and have put on record, in writing, to the Social Development Minister, OFMDFM, and Employment and Learning Minister Reg Empey, my belief that the problems associated with the Holyland area require a joined up, cross-departmental approach. This approach must be long-term and deal with all of the problems in the area rather than just palm the issue off as a mere 'anti-social' issue when it is widely acknowledge that the problem is a culmination of many factors including housing, overpopulation, inadequate supply of student accommodation, unregulated landlords, the over-proliferation of HMO's and apartments, among other factors including anti-social factors."


He concluded,

"Once again I would welcome the support given to this motion by MLA's in the Assembly. It is now time for the Social Development Minister to take her own advice and 'go beyond facile solutions' by moving to implement mandatory landlord registration." CRÍOCH

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Sinn Féin Human Rights spokesperson MLA Martina Anderson has urged people in Derry and Donegal to support the Irish charity Trócaire in helping getting aid to earthquake-stricken Haiti

Martina Anderson said
“It’s estimated that tens of thousand of people have died in earthquake-stricken Haiti, with thousands more injured who are without food, clean water and shelter. We have all seen the horrific pictures on our TV screens of the devastation that this natural disaster has caused. There is a massive humanitarian operation now taking place to get as much aid to the area.

There are ways people in Derry and Donegal can practically help those vital aid relief efforts by supporting Irish charities such as Trócaire

Trócaire partner Caritas Haiti runs over 200 hospitals and medical centres in Haiti. They are also skilled in the provision of clean water and sanitation which will be crucial in this response.

Trócaire’s work in Haiti has for many years focused on helping communities prepare for natural disasters such as this one.

Donations can be easily made online at https://www.trocaire.org/make-a-donation

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D’fháiltigh an Seanadóir Pearse Doherty roimh chinneadh an Aire Batt O Keefe ciorclán 0044/2007 a tharraingt siar. Bhí an ciorclán seo chun deireadh a chuir le tumoideachas sna bunscoileanna.

Dúirt an Seanadóir:

“Fáiltím roimh chineadh an Aire an ciorclán seo a tharraingt siar agus sílim go bhfuil sé ibhfad thar am aige seo a dhéanamh.

"Ón tús bhí muidinne in Sinn Féin dubh inéadan an chiorcláin seo agus sheas muid taobh le taobh le pobal na Gaeilge ina n-iarrachtaí seo a tharraingt siar.

"Is fada an tAire Oideachais sna sé Chontae, Caitríona Ruane ag tabhairt tacaíochta don tumoideachas, agus tá seo bhfeidhim sna Gaelscoileanna sna Sé Chontae.

"Tá fíanaisí láidre ann go bhfuil an tumoideachais luath ina thairbhe
iontach éifeachtach, chan amháin ó thaobh teanga de ach ó thaobh an oideachais go hiomlán de.

"Ní raibh sé ceart ag an Aire acmhainní atá gann go leor cheanna féin a chuir amú ag cosaint an chiorcláin seo fríd na cúirteanna. Ach fáiltím an cinneadh seo agus molaim go mór na daoine uilig a thug cás in éadan an stáit agus iad siúd eile go léir a d’oibir go crua chun seo a thabhairt chun críche”

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was this morning speaking at the launch in west Belfast of the Integrated Services programme for Children and Young People.

In a statement afterward responding to the weekend allegations in the Sunday Tribune
Mr. Adams said:

“The allegations and accusations against me are untrue.

"I find it hugely frustrating that some of the media outlets can say whatever they want and print whatever they want without any reference at all to the truth, accuracy or the rights of the individual in all of these matters.

"I resent absolutely the false allegations that are being made against me and against the party.”

Mr. Adams has warned against sections of the media treating the issue of child abuse issue in a tabloid way.

Speaking at the event Mr. Adams thanked those who had offered their support and solidarity in recent times.

Mr. Adams said:

"I want to begin by thanking people for their kindness and generosity to me and my family during what has been a difficult time.

"I have been moved especially by people who have told me that they or their family are or were in exactly the same position as my clann.

"There is now more disclosure about child abuse, a taboo subject, in today’s society. That is a good thing for everyone.

"And even though the first words are hard to say, and to hear, in the long term an end to a culture of concealment will create an educated, informed society with proper and enlightened and competent protections for children, and processes for dealing with victims and persecuting perpetrators.

"The issue of child abuse effects all sectors of Irish society.

"No class or creed or section is immune from it.

"There is also a life beyond abuse.

"With proper therapeutic support, with love and understanding, victims can become survivors and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives.

"Our duty as a society is to enable and to empower them to do this.

"In the course of launching an initiative like this I would not normally deal with the issue of abuse. I would do so at other forums.

"Maybe that is part of the problem. These issues need to be intelligently discussed wherever it is appropriate. This requires a genuine public conversation about all the issues involved." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has welcomed Minister Batt O’Keeffe’s decision to withdraw Circular 0044/2007 which sought to end the practice of early immersion education or tumoideachas in primary schools.

He said:

“I welcome the decision by the Minister to withdraw this circular and feel that it is long overdue.

We in Sinn Féin have from the outset opposed this circular and have stood side by side with the Irish language community in seeking to have it withdrawn.

Sinn Féin’s Minister for Education in the 6 counties Caitríona Ruane has long been a supporter of Tumoideachas which is in place in Gaelscoileanna in the 6 counties.

All evidence points irrevocably to early total immersion producing significant benefit, not only for the minority language but for the overall educational rounding of children.

It was wrong for the Minister to waste scarce resources in defending this circular through the courts. However I welcome his decision and commend the individuals who took this case against the state and all others who worked hard to influence it.” ENDS

20.1.10

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The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris spoke in the Dáil this afternoon in support of the air traffic controllers who took limited industrial action at airports today in protest at the suspension without pay of 14 workers. Deputy Ferris was among a number of TDs who forced a short debate on the issue.

The Kerry North TD said: “While the disruption to flights and the inconvenience to travellers is to be regretted, the workers involved in this action have a legitimate grievance. The suspensions should be lifted immediately and the normal arbitration procedures followed in order to address the issues.” ENDS

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Speaking in this weeks key debate in the European Parliament Ms de Brún said:

"I am deeply disappointed at the failure of the Copenhagen conference to agree an ambitious, legally binding deal

"The world needs to know what real emissions reductions will be made and to know that the necessary financing will be made available to developing countries to tackle climate change and its effects. We need clarity about exactly who will provide this finance, how much each developed country will provide and how and when it will be provided.

"Industrialised countries have been given until February to commit to their emission reduction pledges. The EU must commit to 40% by 2020 and 80-95% by 2050 in line with the latest science and must not make such pledges dependent on the actions of others..

"The failure of the developed world to deal fairly with the needs and concerns of the developing world is particularly disappointing and it is the most vulnerable countries that will suffer disproportionately from the unsatisfactory outcome of the Copenhagen summit

"The lack of a legally binding deal means that the future of our planet could be very bleak. In the long run, no country or actor has benefited from this absence of progress.

"It is now crucial that we keep up the pressure for far greater progress in 2010

"There cannot be a repeat of the lack of political will demonstrated in Copenhagen. The need for a comprehensive and binding treaty is urgent as is the need to pledge new and adequate finances. We need strong political leadership to have any chance of fighting climate change. "
ENDS

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Returning from the largest delegation of parliamentarians ever to visit the besieged Gaza strip, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has criticised the slow pace of reconstruction in Gaza after the war one year ago and called for an end to the ongoing siege of Gaza.

Ms de Brún also called on the EU to "suspend the preferential trade agreement with Israel until they respect basic human rights"

Speaking at a press conference in the European Parliament in Brussels by the MEPs who participated in the mission, Ms de Brún said:

"This collective punishment of the people on the Gaza strip must be ended immediately. People have lost their homes, and have seen their economy and livelihoods destroyed. Many lack the basic necessities for daily life and while locals are trying their best, large scale reconstruction is impossible without the materials that are being blocked by the siege. There must be free movement of people and goods, and Israel must also end its colonisation of the West Bank.

"Twelve months after the Israeli offensive it is clear that while the rubble has been cleared, little or no reconstruction is underway. It is no wonder that the people of Gaza feel completely abandoned by the international community.

Ms de Brún continued:

"I will raise what I have in the European Parliament and with Minister Mícheál Martin who was recently refused entry to Gaza. It is time for the EU to suspend the preferential trade agreement with Israel until they respect basic human rights.

"The present situation is extremely damaging for the prospects for Palestinian unity and reconciliation, and for the prospects for peace

"Implementing the recommendations of the Goldstone Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict could help pave the way for a peaceful resolution of the conflict."
ENDS


Note for editors:

12 Members of the European Parliament from 4 different political groups took part in the most representative parliamentary delegation ever to visit Gaza.

The delegation also included members of regional and national parliaments from 12 countries all over Europe, and consisted of nearly 60 members in total. They succeeded in entering Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah-crossing.

The purpose of this fact finding-mission was to gather information about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, under siege since the 2006 elections.

The mission included talks with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and representatives of local NGOs in Gaza, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary General of the Arab League and the speaker of the Egyptian Parliament in Cairo.

The mission was organized by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), the umbrella body of thirty NGOs across Europe, and was headed by Sir Gerald Kaufman, MP.

The MEPs participating were:
BENARAB-ATTOU Malika (Greens/EFA, France)
CHILDERS Nessa (S&D, Ireland)
DE BRÚN Bairbre (GUE/NGL, Ireland)
EVANS Jill (Greens/EFA, UK)
GOEBBELS Robert (S&D, Luxembourg)
HOWITT Richard (S&D, UK)
MATIAS Marisa (GUE/NGL, Portugal)
RINALDI Niccolò (ALDE, Italy)
SCHOLZ Helmut (GUE/NGL, Germany)
SMITH Alyn (Greens/EFA, UK)
THEIN Alexandra (ALDE, Germany)
ZALA Boris (S&D, Slovakia)

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Ag labhairt i bParlaimint na hEorpa inniú léirigh Bairbre de Brún FPE an-díomá faoi theip chomhdháil Chóbanhávan ar athrú aeráide chun margadh uaillmhianach a aontú a bheadh ina cheangal dlí.  Dúirt sí go bhfuil práinn le conradh atá uaillmhianach agus ina cheangal dlí.

Dúirt sí:          

"Caithfidh fios a bheith ag an saol mór cad iad na fíorlaghduithe astuithe a dhéanfar agus fios a bheith acu go gcuirfear an maoiniú riachtanach ar fáil do thíortha atá i mbéal forbartha chun dul i ngleic le hathrú aeráide agus a iarmhairtí. Tá soiléireacht de dhíth orainn faoi cé go díreach a  sholáthrófar an maoiniú seo, cá mhéad a thabharfaidh gach tír forbartha agus cad é mar agus cá huair a chuirfear ar fáil é.

"Tugadh go dtí mí Feabhra do thíortha tionsclaithe chun gealltanas a thabhairt maidir lena ngealltáin laghdaithe astaithe. Is gá don AE 40% faoi 2020 agus 80-95% faoi 2050 a gheallúint de réir na heolaíochta is déanaí agus ní féidir a leithéid de gealltáin a dhéanamh ag brath ar ghníomhartha daoine eile.

"Is ábhar an-díomá é gur theip ar an domhan forbartha déileáil go cothrom le riachtanais agus ábhar imní an domhain i mbéal forbartha agus is iad na tíortha is leochailí a  fhulaingeoidh go díréireach mar thoradh míshásúil ar chruinniú mullaigh Chóbanhávan.

"Ciallaíonn margadh nach bhfuil ina cheangal dlí go dtiocfadh le todhchaí ár bpláinéid bheith an-diolba. Sa deireadh thiar thall níor bhain tír nó rannpháirtí tairbhe as an easpa dul chun cinn seo.

"Tá sé ríthábhachtach anois go gcoinnímid an brú ag dul le haghaidh I bhfad níos mó dul chun cinn sa bhliain 2010.

"Ní féidir le heaspa tola polaitiúla a léiríodh i gCóbanhávan tarlú arís. Tá ceannaireacht pholaitiúil láidir de dhíth chun seans bheith ann chun athrú aeráide a throid." DEIREADH

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Sinn Féin party president and MP for West Belfast Gerry Adams, speaking at the launch of the Integrated Services Programme for Children and Young People, this morning in St Mary's College on the Falls Road has said:

"I want to commend all of those who have contributed in any way to the Integrated Services programme for Children and Young People; and especially the West Belfast and Shankill Partnership Boards.

"They have done and are continuing to do tremendous work in this constituency helping disadvantaged communities. Comhgairdeas agus go raibh maith agaibh.

"This programme has been allocated £5 million over 3 years and is a vital part of the West Belfast Task Force.

"I want to thank the funders, always a sensible thing to do, OFMDFM, Education Department and the Belfast Education & Library Board.

"I want to begin by thanking people for their kindness and generosity to me and my family during what has been a difficult time.

"I have been moved especially by people who have told me that they or their family are or were in exactly the same position as my clann.

"There is now more disclosure about child abuse, a taboo subject, in today’s society. That is a good thing for everyone.

"And even though the first words are hard to say, and to hear, in the long term an end to a culture of concealment will create an educated, informed society with proper and enlightened and competent protections for children, and processes for dealing with victims and persecuting perpetrators.

"The issue of child abuse effects all sectors of Irish society.

"No class or creed or section is immune from it.

"There is also a life beyond abuse.

"With proper therapeutic support, with love and understanding, victims can become survivors and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives.

"Our duty as a society is to enable and to empower them to do this.

"In the course of launching an initiative like this I would not normally deal with the issue of abuse. I would do so at other forums.

"Maybe that is part of the problem. These issues need to be intelligently discussed wherever it is appropriate. This requires a genuine public conversation about all  the issues involved.

"So back to this mornings good news.

"This programme we are launching today is about looking at all of the services and projects which exist for children and young people in this area and bringing them together in a way which can deliver better and improved services. 

"It’s a simple idea, a common sense idea - but getting it up and running has been almost as difficult as getting a date on transfer of policing and justice from the DUP!

"Among the inevitable problems was funding – how much and who would pay?

"As is not unusual this became a logjam.

"But when we asked the Department of Education and dFM to intervene Martin and Caitriona did so.

"And I thank them for that.  

"Our young people and children are the future. Everyone here knows and understands that. That’s why you are here.

"Our young people are great. They are good citizens.

"Sometimes a small minority will get them a bad name.

"But the vast, vast majority of our young people make a positive contribution to our society and community through sport, education, community based projects and voluntary work.

"Finally, I want to say a few words about children and young people with special needs.

"There must be equality. All children deserve to be treated as equals and to have the necessary support and resources that allows them to enjoy a life as equals.

"I want to commend the Minister for Education for her good work on this and I want to commend parents and support groups, teachers and campaigners who are working so hard to ensure that our children and young have their full rights and entitlements and a happy life.

"This programme can make a real difference in people’s lives. 

"So good luck to you all." CRIOCH

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Sinn Fein MLA and human rights spokesperson Martina Anderson has stated that an urgent and actual review of prisons is needed. Ms Anderson was speaking following a meeting with the Prison Ombudsman today at Stormont.

Speaking following the meeting Ms Anderson said:


“In terms of international human rights standards as applied to advanced democratic states the Prison Service is in serious crisis.
“There has been no modernisation of the prison service in terms of the norms of human rights protections and adequate service provision


“Despite being 10 suicides over eight years, a history of alcoholism within the jails, a severe lack of care and a culture of apathy from staff towards reform there has been no review of accountability mechanisms. Reports into the death of Colin Bell were a remarkable indictment of the lack of care, custom and practice at Maghaberry.


“Further to this we can see cases such as a 15 year old girl, not being held in a Juvenile Secure Unit Woodland but Hydebank who is locked up 23 hours with poor access to services, especially education. I am worried that there is little if any child protection training nor vetting of staff who work with children.


“These failings have been consistently exposed and highlighted by several, knowledgeable agencies including the Coroners service, by Prison Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate, and the Independent Monitoring Board, yet recommendations remain mostly unimplemented, warnings ignored and vulnerable prisoners die as a result.


“The gift of prison reform currently lies with the British Secretary of State. Over the past year it is clearly evident that he has played this role with minimum effect and has done nothing to improve conditions.


“Only through transfer can we bring about accountability with fit for purpose facilities and adequately trained staff with water tight procedures, all of which is desperately needed.


“Following the meeting with the Prison Ombudsman and on the back of successive reports and countless recommendations these reports, I would call for greater statutory powers for the Ombudsman. Clearly there is a need for this and the protection of the vital role of this office.”

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Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has called on the owners of Derry’s Arntz Bellting company to accept an enhanced redundancy package proposed by the workforce.

“I am aware that Optibelt, parent company of Arntz Belting, have been furnished with a proposed redundancy package for the 115 workers who will lose their jobs when the factory closes in March,” Ms. Anderson said.

“As yet, Optibelt have not responded to the proposal but I have contacted them directly in Germany to urge them to accept it.

“This is an enhanced package but that reflects the fact that we are facing a total closure which means there is no hope of these workers gaining re-employment with Arntz in the future.

“Furthermore, Optibelt are still in possession of an extremely valuable asset in terms of the Arntz site plus they have received considerable sums in government assistance during their 40 years in Derry. I believe that Optibelt should now reflect that by agreeing to the enhanced package.

“I would like to stress that Arntz have been a good employer over the years. They have paid decent wages and that is evidenced by the fact that they have an extremely loyal and hard-working staff in Derry.

“Those workers are obviously extremely disappointed to see the factory closing but I hope that Optibelt will honour the spirit of their past presence in Derry by agreeing to the enhanced package.”

Anderson calls for enhanced Arntz package

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Responding to a statement by Eileen Calder dismissing the concerns expressed by one of those abuse victims interviewed by the Sunday Tribune last weekend who had accused the paper of ‘manipulation’, Sinn Féin Assembly member Caral NíChuilin said:


“In recent weeks a number of alleged victims have come forward to tell their story and I support them fully in that.


“For the record Sinn Féin did not accuse the Sunday Tribune of ‘manipulating’ a victim of abuse. This accusation was made by one of the victims interviewed by the Sunday Tribune in a statement issued through her solicitor. I do find it shocking that a victim of abuse is placed in this position by a newspaper. I also find it strange that anyone would dismiss the statement by this woman and the concerns she has raised through her solicitors. Sinn Féin comes at this from the position that the rights of victims are paramount.


“The fact is that the Sunday Tribune printed the weekend stories making specific allegations against Gerry Adams and other republicans. They did not at any stage prior to publication put those allegations to Sinn Féin in common with normal journalistic practice. One of the victims interviewed has since dismissed the claims linking Gerry Adams to the story.


“It is quite proper that both Sinn Féin and Gerry Adams have placed these very serious matters in the hands of our legal representatives.”

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Speaking in the Dáil this evening on the banking inquiry, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD stated that such is the scale of the scandal that nothing short of full public scrutiny is acceptable and that the Government’s proposed approach should be rejected in favour of an inquiry conducted in the open by a Joint Oireachtas Committee. He said:

“This inquiry needs to examine and expose in full how the banking sector played a central role in bringing the Irish economy to its knees. It must call to account Government Ministers, top bankers and the so-called regulators who, instead of doing their duty, maintained a cosy relationship with the banks.

“The Irish public has already poured €7 billion in recapitalisation payments to Anglo-Irish, AIB and BoI. Over €50 billion will be spent on NAMA. Billions more is required for future recapitalisation - and the public still don’t know exactly how or why this situation was allowed to develop.

“The inquiry should concern predominantly the failure of regulation and the role that Government played, as well as the conduct of top management at the banks. The role that external auditors played has also to be examined.

“The inquiry must be public and we recommend an all-party Joint Oireachtas Committee – with outside experts being brought in to help with such an investigation. The bulk of the work should be done in public. This is what people have a right to and deserve.

“We fundamentally disagree with the Commission of Investigation as a method to undertake this inquiry. This work could be undertaken by members of the Oireachtas at a great deal less cost to the taxpayer and with full public disclosure. As it stands the public element of this process of investigation will be virtually non-existent.

“The systemic failures that pre-empted this banking crisis and the fact that many of those involved are still in their positions requires a fully transparent examination of the facts.” ENDS

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North Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris TD will this evening attempt to have the Dáil adjourned to debate the ongoing crisis at the Accident and Emergency Department at Kerry General Hospital. Deputy Ferris said the situation as it currently stands cannot be allowed to continue.

He said: “Having heard in some detail from members of staff at Kerry General Hospital; I am appalled that the situation at the Accident and Emergency Department has been allowed to reach such a crisis point. No amount of spin by the HSE and its spokespeople can hide the fact that they have allowed this situation arise because of their policies. Yes, there is a problem nationally with recruiting staff, however that problem existed at Kerry long before the current difficulties arose.

“It is now almost four years since A&E Consultant Sean O’Rourke resigned from his post at Kerry General because of the lack of resources and staff available at the department.

“Despite the assurances I received before Christmas from the HSE that the A&E unit is to remain and that a new unit is to be developed with a full compliment of staff, I remain unconvinced that these assurances will be kept. I have heard first hand accounts of some appalling conditions that staff have to work in and that patients have to put up with. It is simply unacceptable that this should be allowed to continue.” ENDS

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